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Tinnitus and sudden hearing loss: diving, swimming, flying - what should be considered?


Anyone suffering from tinnitus needs “vacation for the ears”, as the saying goes. Therefore, tinnitus patients should be careful with their hearing, especially during their vacation - not only when flying, but also when swimming and diving.

It is summer time - many are looking forward to their yearned vacation and are flying to their dream destination. However, more and more people complain that they perceive a disturbing noise in their ears after a flight. What to do? It is highly probable that these people suffered pressure trauma - also called barotrauma - when they landed. Slight damage to the inner ear may have remained. As a rule, however, the healing prognosis is very good - especially among young people. To ensure that this does not happen again, the specialists at the tinnitus center at the Berlin Charité advise you to use a decongestant nasal spray before the start of the next flight and before reducing the altitude, thus ventilating the middle ear.

By the way: ear pain is usually triggered by changes in pressure when flying. The higher the plane rises, the lower the air pressure becomes. This change creates overpressure in the middle ear, which is usually perceived as an unpleasant "crackling". Especially during take-off and landing, it helps to compensate for this pressure by yawning or chewing gum. Alternatively, you can cover your nose and exhale with your mouth closed, as this can release air from the middle ear. If you experience problems after a long flight, an ENT specialist should be consulted.

Swimming and diving don't have to be a problem for tinnitus patients
Now that it is warm in many areas, swimming pools, swimming lakes and the sea are very popular with swimmers of all ages. Whether this poses a risk to tinnitus sufferers depends on whether their eardrums are intact and whether they have problems with the pressure balance in the middle ear or are more likely to be infected. If this is not the case, there is nothing wrong with swimming. With regard to the posture of the cervical spine, however, according to the expert advice, swimming in the back is preferable to swimming in the chest.

Caution should also be exercised when diving: because despite pressure equalization, some people continue to feel pressure and have a low ear noise after diving - these can be signs of a so-called barotrauma. In this case, the tinnitus experts advise you to see an ENT doctor very quickly for a precise examination of the ears and to rule out such a barotrauma. Because the latter may need to be treated - even if the hearing itself remains unaffected.

About the German Tinnitus Foundation Charité
The German Charité Tinnitus Foundation was established in August 2011 as a non-profit foundation under civil law. Based on the conviction that tinnitus and hearing disorders need to be treated as best as possible and that at the same time everyone can do a great deal to protect themselves, the foundation has set itself the following tasks: research funding, international science communication as well as prevention and education. The foundation fulfills its tasks within the scope of its financial resources and together with partners by funding research projects, through international congresses, through awareness campaigns about the risks of noise and stress, by awarding prices and developing preventive measures. Young people are a special target group of prevention work.

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