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Bends - Inner Ear DCS

Dr Jules Eden, dive medicine specialist and founder of e-med, answers divers' questions - as published in Sport Diver magazine:
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Q - Dear Doc Have written to you prev for help - you've been great so hope you don't mind me asking you something else. Got back from a week hols in Sharm yesterday. We did 4 dives (2 Tues and 2 Weds). (Got there week last Sunday) Went on first dive Tuesday (had a rest day on the Monday). We've just passed AOW but not many dives under our belts (did O.W. then onto AOW) therefore we've never dived at sea or from a boat.

Always enjoy reading your article in Sport Diver and read your web site avidly so bought some Nelsons Travella stuff to take as don't have my sea legs. My dive buddy is same. We followed the instructions but they didn't help. She was "ill" 5 times that first day and I was ill the once. We drank plenty of fluids to ward off dehydration etc. Instructor recommended "Stugeron". We took that on day 2 and it worked a treat. We read the instruction leaflet and it said re: drowsy/machinery so we told each other that if we felt the slightest bit strange we would immediately notify the other and we'd ascend immediately.

The Weds dives were to 22 metres - my buddy lost her mask and panicked and ascended - not a rapid descent but a gradual one. (she has a buoyancy problem - not perfected the one button press on the inflation hose). If she's not near the bottom she's higher than myself during dives because of this. I saw her lose her mask and went to her aid. We were by then near the surface and she couldn't descend. That was the morning dive. We didn't do a safety stop because of this. The afternoon dive was again to 22 metres. We were going up and over the coral etc and again, she was buoyant. The problem this time was that she again went to the surface eventually (not a rapid ascent) - her reg had flooded with sea water and she panicked (!!). We again because of this didn't do a safety stop. Thursday we got up at midnight to go to Cairo by bus (didn't fly because of the dives the days earlier). Bus ride 0130hrs to Cairo and back - getting back to our hotel at midnight the following day on a very bumpy road. We were really tired as couldn't get much sleep.

Doc - sorry if this is long winded but since the boat dives we're both feeling we're still on the boat and its bobbing up and down a bit. Could it be that we've not really had a real good night's sleep during the week? (buddy is a light sleeper too so any slight noise, she's woken up). Plane home took 7 hours because of mess up at Sharm airport so on plane 1 1/2 hrs longer than anticipated. Did the exercises they advise on planes but still feel slightly disorientated. Lengthy story I know but thought you would want the facts. Please could you advise what this could be?

A - I think with 2 bounce dives with rapid ascents and now disorientation, you have to rule out DCS. If the ascents were just slightly faster than normal, and you were not dehydrated, and the bottom times were of a normal length, then it may well not be a hit, but you can't be sure until a dive doc has a look at you. It will be a tough call to differentiate this from say a middle ear over-expansion injury, but a good doc will know what they're doing. For a list of UK and Worldwide chambers, go to the www.e-med.co.uk dive pages and follow the instructions. This will give you a full list of dive chambers, and they all have a doctor in attendance who should know what they are looking at.

But to shoot from the hip, I would guess that if your buddy is only feeling like she's on the boat still, and you have that AND disorientation, then Dr Jules'Law of Inequality will reign. That is, the panicking diver shooting to the top gets hit less than the cool one dragged up with them. C'est la vie.

(other dive medical questions)



   


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