Have you ever gone skydiving and experienced ear pain during or after the jump? Did you wonder if it was expected or a cause for concern? Ear pain is a common complaint among skydivers and can be caused by various factors.
In this article, we’ll explore why skydiving can cause ear pain and what you can do to prevent or alleviate it. From changes in air pressure to ear infections, we’ll cover everything you need to know about ear pain and skydiving.
So, if you plan to take the leap, keep reading to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Does skydiving hurt your ears?
Skydiving can cause discomfort or ear pain due to changes in air pressure during the descent. As you freefall toward the ground, the air pressure decreases, and this can cause a pressure difference between the air inside your ears and the outside air, leading to a feeling of fullness or even pain.
You should consult a doctor before skydiving if you have any pre-existing ear conditions, such as an ear infection or eardrum perforation. They may advise against it to avoid exacerbating your situation.
What is Barotrauma?
Barotrauma is a type of physical trauma caused by a change in air pressure. It often occurs when people go skydiving, as the body is not designed to withstand the rapid decrease in air pressure that comes with freefall.
Common symptoms of barotrauma include ear pain, disorientation, and a feeling of pressure or fullness in the ears. In extreme cases, barotrauma can even cause hearing loss.
Barotrauma is a condition that causes a person to feel pain or discomfort in the middle of their ear because of a change in pressure in the air or water surrounding it. The feeling of having a blocked ear arises when the body does not equalize the pressure in the ear and the Eustachian tube is blocked. If the pressure difference persists and you cannot pop your ear, you may get earache.
What can be done to prevent or alleviate skydiving-related ear pain?
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to reduce the risk of experiencing ear pain during or after a skydive. The most important thing is to equalize your ears throughout the descent by holding your nose and blowing gently while keeping your mouth closed. This will help balance the pressure between the air inside your ears and the outside air, reducing discomfort.
You can also try using earplugs or specialized ear protection designed for skydiving. These are usually made of foam or silicone and can provide additional insulation and comfort during a jump.
Finally, ensuring you’re well-hydrated before and after your skydive is important, as dehydration can cause your ears to become congested and uncomfortable.
What are the best earplugs for skydiving?
The best earplugs for skydiving are specially designed to provide superior sound attenuation without blocking out all sound. They should be comfortable and secure in your ears and stay in place throughout the dive.
Skydiving earplugs need to filter or block noise to prevent hearing damage. Additionally, a custom-molded earplug that covers the ear canal prevents wind noise and is more aerodynamic.
How to prevent ear pain before skydiving
To prevent ear pain before skydiving, equalizing the pressure in your ears during the ascent and descent is essential. Here are some additional tips to help you avoid ear pain:
- Yawning and swallowing: You can try to yawn or swallow several times during the ascent and descent to help equalize the pressure in your ears.
- The Valsalva maneuver: Pinch your nose and gently blow out as if you are blowing your nose while keeping your mouth closed. This technique can help to equalize the pressure in your ears.
- Toynbee maneuver: Pinch your nose and swallow. This will help equalize the pressure in your ears.
- Nasal decongestants: If you have a cold or congestion, use a nasal decongestant before your jump to help clear your nasal passages and equalize the pressure in your ears.
- Earplugs: Wearing earplugs during the ascent and descent can help regulate the pressure changes in your ears.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Consuming caffeine or alcohol before your jump can cause dehydration, making it harder to equalize the pressure in your ears.
Following these tips can help prevent ear pain before your skydiving experience. If you are experiencing ear pain, it is important to inform your instructor so that they can take appropriate measures to ensure your safety.
How to unblock ears after skydiving
After skydiving, if you feel like your ears are blocked, there are several things you can do to help unblock them:
- Try swallowing and yawning, the Valsalva or Toynbee maneuver as described above.
- Jaw movements: Move your jaw up and down or side to side to help relieve the pressure in your ears.
- Chewing gum: Chewing gum can help to stimulate saliva production and swallowing, which can help to equalize the pressure in your ears.
- Warm compress: Applying a warm compress to your ears can help to relieve any discomfort or pain associated with ear blockage.
If your ear blockage persists or is accompanied by pain or other symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention to rule out any underlying ear conditions or injuries.
Ear Pain Is Common When Skydiving
Ear pain is a common complaint among skydivers, but you can take steps to reduce the risk of discomfort or pain. Equalizing your ears throughout the descent, using earplugs, and staying well-hydrated all help to minimize the risk of experiencing ear pain after skydiving.
If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort in your ears, it is vital to take action immediately to reduce the risk of further injury.
The small, snappy planes we use for parachuting are not pressurized (which is good, by the way, because the short hydraulic jacks open the doors put the plane under pressure) so that our ears experience the subtleties of air pressure in the same way (and to a lesser extent when we dive). The air is thinner at altitude, so the pressure on the inside of the ears is lower. Anyone who has ever flown in an airliner knows that changes in air pressure during the ascent and descent can cause your ears to pop.