What if you become ill just before setting off on an expensive dive trip or while you are away? You can’t stop people coughing their cold germs on you especially in the close confines or an aeroplane so what can you do if you think you’ve got a cold coming on? It could stop you from clearing your ears.
First, prevention is better than cure. Boost your immune system by eating plenty of foods that are rich in vitamin C and friendly bacteria such as you find in live yogurts. Eat plenty of garlic. It contains super nutrients that block the action of enzymes that allow viruses and bacteria to invade our respiratory tracts and lungs. If that doesn’t work and you do get blocked up, keep things running by taking a Sudafed decongestant pill an hour before diving. It’s probably the only one that‘s been tested for use under pressure.
Did you know that some types of chewing gum could help keep ear infections at bay? Sugar-free versions that contain the sweetener xylitol have been proven not only to reduce the chances of tooth decay, but Scandinavian research has shown that xylitol can migrate into the Eustachian tubes to provide a non-stick surface that prevents the bacteria that cause infections from taking hold.
A drop of pure olive oil or medicated Earol Ear Treatment in the outer ear helps in the same way.
If you regularly suffer ear infections, there is mask available that stops the seawater coming into contact with them. It has ear pockets connected by tubes to the main air pocket of the mask and has been proven to be effective.
Sunburn is another potential wrecker of a dive trip. Though you may be sorely tempted, stay out of the sun between dives. Your tan will only rub off on the inside of your wetsuit. It may be cloudy in the tropics but the sun is overhead all day and harmful ultra-violet rays still penetrate. If you are out at sea, the sea breeze will keep you cool and you may not notice how much you have overdosed on sunshine until it’s too late. The best way to get a lasting tan is to stay in the shade or as they say in Australia, ‘Slip, slap, slop!’ That’s slip on a shirt, slap on a hat and slop on some sun-blocking lotion.
Seasickness sufferers are best staying off boats that go to sea for long periods but there are medical remedies that do not preclude diving. Chewing ginger is also said to be a very effective alternative. Seasickness is caused by your senses receiving conflicting signals. Your ears say you are moving when your eyes say you are not. Don’t sit inside reading a book. Get out on deck and let your eyes see what your ears already know. Everybody is susceptible at some time. You’ll notice that those that seem to be OK are busy doing many things and not focussed on any detail.
Upset stomachs are common with first-time travellers in the tropics. Drink only bottles water or drinks that have been sealed, and without ice. Avoid unwashed fruit, salad and ice-creams. Keep from being dehydrated by using oral rehydration salts.
Happy Diving - John Bantin