Ruptured Ear Drum

Updated: Jun 26, 2018

How it occurs?

A ruptured eardrum can occur during descent or ascent. During descent, the water pressure increases and pushes the eardrum inwards. If the pressure is not equalized, then the ear drum will eventually rupture.

During ascent; a freediver should never attempt to equalize the ears. If they do so, the pressure inside will increase to the point where rupture can also occur.


Make sure you are not diving with any coughs/colds or congestion. Start your first freedive of the session slowly and see if you encounter any resistance to equalisation during the descent. If at any stage you feel pain/discomfort in the ear then STOP immediately and return to the surface in a controlled fashion.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Ear pain that may subside quickly

  • Clear, pus-filled or bloody drainage from your ear

  • Hearing loss

  • Ringing in your ear (tinnitus)

  • Spinning sensation (vertigo)

  • Nausea or vomiting that can result from vertigo

First Aid

A ruptured ear drum is not a life-threatening incident. If a ruptured ear drum occurs, you must cease diving for the duration of the session and visit a general practitioner.

Geelong; Victoria, Australia. 

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