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Ear Nose and Throat Problems - Meniere's Disease

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 - In February I went to a local diving centre to start scuba diving. Whilst there I had to fill in a medical questionnaire form and on it I put a yes down for problems with ears.

I was initially diagnosed with Meniere's disease about 10 years ago, when I had a number of attacks over a few months. I didn't have any more attacks until about 3 years ago, when again the attacks were on and off for a few months.

The dive centre told me to get in touch with a doctor who dives with them to see if he would give me the all clear. When I spoke to him on the phone he did not know if I could learn to scuba dive with Meniere's disease. He then found something on a DAN website saying that Meniere's disease disqualifies me from learning to scuba dive. He did not carry out any examinations just told me I am disqualified. What he did not say and what I am trying to find out is am I disqualified for the rest of my life, or only if I have attacks within a certain time span. I was devastated to be told I couldn't scuba dive and really want to find out if I can ever learn. This is because it is one of my and my husbands life ambitions and he refuses to go unless I can because it wouldn't be fair on me.

A - Here is the DAN website information that led your doc to bar you for life from diving:

“DAN: Meniere's Disease is a recurring group of symptoms, characterized by episodes of fullness in the ear, Tinnitus (ringing), vertigo -- sometimes with nausea and vomiting -- and fluctuating hearing loss. The vertigo can occur without warning. If they occur underwater, it could lead to panic with possible uncontrolled ascent or drowning. Recurring episodes of vertigo from any cause should be a contraindication to diving.”

So in my opinion there is an exit clause for you. The statement figures that you are a permanent sufferer from this condition. But from your mail it seems it occurs rarely and in clusters. Also there are many reasons for vertigo, and diving does not bring on vertigo in a Meniere’s sufferer per se, and they don’t bar people with ABV from diving, which is far commoner than what you have. So there ought to be flexibility with you, if you haven’t had it in a long while. See a proper dive doc.

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