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JohnnyBravo

ear drum blow out

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JohnnyBravo

I see many people claim another advantage to the helmet is ear protection. Just curious, if you wear ear plugs do they protect the ears? Is there a specific type of ear plug that would be best?

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Pistol Pete

I'm guessing that if you had a wax style or molded ear plug that it probably would not get pushed into the ear canal during a fall. Downside is, you're gonna have a real hard time listening to your crew on the water. I'd just get the helmet and be done.

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M3Fan

There are some good threads on this subject already. Doughickey and I have commented on this many times. There are plugs out there. I was sold on them until one fell out en route to the water because I tripped so hard barefooting. By the time my ear hit the water, the plug had flown out. Now I use the helmet.

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The Garslayer
I'm guessing that if you had a wax style or molded ear plug that it probably would not get pushed into the ear canal during a fall. Downside is, you're gonna have a real hard time listening to your crew on the water. I'd just get the helmet and be done.

Trust what Pete says ... I've neve seen anyone with more safety gear Biggrin.gif

The helmets are comfortable and provide good ear coverage, there is too much risk of not hearing when you wear the plugs.

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VinRLX

Doug Hickey uses both. Search or PM him.

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BlastRlxi

My daughter recently perferated her eardrum on an amusement park ride. The doctor told her she had to wear an earplug in the water, but the only ones we could find were the wax ones. They will not stay in for watersports. Are there better waterproof earplugs out there? The local drug stores only carry the wax ones.

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Pistol Pete

If you go to a gun shop or big hunting show, they can put you in touch with people who do custom fit ear plugs.

Here is an example from my motorcycling friends.

http://theearplugguy.com/

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doughickey

After 3 perforations (Footin & Boarding), my left ear will never heal. Perforation won't heal itelf. Doctor says "don't even get lake water in that ear. He winces when I tell him I ski.

After doing my homework, here's what I've been using for 3 years.

Stage 1: Insert an ear plug. I use Doc's ProPlugs. They come premolded in various sizes. They have 2 kinds.... one with a tiny hole (for divers), and a solid one. You can buy on-line, or go to a dive shop. Cost is $10-$15 for a pair. http://www.proplugs.com/

Stage 2: I wear a neoprene headband (called Ear Band-it). Picked up at a medical supply place. Meant for kids with tubes in their ears. I wear this to ensure the plug stays in the ear. I think the cost was about $20.

http://earplugstore.stores.yahoo.net/earbanearret.html

Stage 3: I use a ProTec helmet. The Ace Wake model. Has removable ear flaps. This I wear for all round protection for those sideways falls. Cost under $60 at most ski outlets. http://www.hardheadedsports.com/protec-ace...ing-helmet.html

Do I look like a Dork? Yes. Do I care? No..... because I do not worry about falls anymore. My skiing continues.

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89SN2001

Thanks for some great ear info. We have been battling swimmers ear all year with 2 of my sons. Doc says wash their hait while in the lake because the soap gets in their ears and the bacteria can not grow because the water comes out easier (does not allow adhesion to take place)

Blast--I am guessing your daughter hurt her ear at Kings Island-What happened on what ride? Hope she will be okay. We are headed out the door for KI now.

Edited by 89SN2001

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tparider

after a perforated eardrum a couple of months ago (and my wife just did it last month), I swear by Doc's Proplugs now. Get the vented ones. I think they were $12 after shipping.

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eubanks
after a perforated eardrum a couple of months ago (and my wife just did it last month), I swear by Doc's Proplugs now. Get the vented ones. I think they were $12 after shipping.

Did you get fitted for these somewhere? I would like to order some. Those HS 3's scare me after busting my eardrum doing one. I can't think of too many things that hurt worse that a blown eardrum.

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doughickey

In my case, I went to a local medical supply store where they fitted me for one of their standard sizes.

I recall one other Crewmember had an outlet send him a "sizing kit"..... to ensure he got the right size.

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LouDoc

The humble opinion of an ENT:

I strongly recommend the helmet as first line defense. In fact, I see quite a few perforations from watersports and spend a good deal of time counseling those patients on the merits of helmets. As for wax plugs the above recommendations are quite solid. The Proplugs work very well with the right ear configuration. The wax plugs you buy at the drug store are fine for casual swimming, but just won't do the job for lakeheads like the members of this site. The wax plugs would work if they're combined with the Band-It type headband.

Since quite a few folks in Kentucky have lake properties, I usually recommend a custom molded plug. These fit quite snugly and are very comfortable. At my office, we charge $70 a pair and an adult could reallistically get three seasons out of them if they take care of them. Kids typically will last just for one season before they don't fit well because of growth. Seems expensive, but consider a 5 ml bottle of prescription eardrops for an infection will set you back $69 and that doesn't include the office visit. Most people have already been to an urgent care or ER prior to seeing me so the cost is even higher.

What should you do if you suspect a ruptured eardrum? First, don't let anymore lake water into the ear. I strongly discourage peroxide, alcohol, or any other type of flushing of the ear. Keep the ear dry until it's looked at by a doctor. Pain, bleeding, and mild hearing loss are typical symptoms but if you also have vertigo then you need to see a specialist asap. Vertigo or severe dizziness can indicate a very serious injury that could lead to permanent hearing loss.

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LouDoc
After 3 perforations (Footin & Boarding), my left ear will never heal. Perforation won't heal itelf. Doctor says "don't even get lake water in that ear. He winces when I tell him I ski.

After doing my homework, here's what I've been using for 3 years.

Stage 1: Insert an ear plug. I use Doc's ProPlugs. They come premolded in various sizes. They have 2 kinds.... one with a tiny hole (for divers), and a solid one. You can buy on-line, or go to a dive shop. Cost is $10-$15 for a pair. http://www.proplugs.com/

Stage 2: I wear a neoprene headband (called Ear Band-it). Picked up at a medical supply place. Meant for kids with tubes in their ears. I wear this to ensure the plug stays in the ear. I think the cost was about $20.

http://earplugstore.stores.yahoo.net/earbanearret.html

Stage 3: I use a ProTec helmet. The Ace Wake model. Has removable ear flaps. This I wear for all round protection for those sideways falls. Cost under $60 at most ski outlets. http://www.hardheadedsports.com/protec-ace...ing-helmet.html

Do I look like a Dork? Yes. Do I care? No..... because I do not worry about falls anymore. My skiing continues.

An eardrum that can't be fixed? Sounds like the Canadian healthcare system is letting you down! You should head south for some good ol' American surgery!

Seriously, great recommendations and a very sensible approach if you're going to live with the perf.

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LouDoc
Thanks for some great ear info. We have been battling swimmers ear all year with 2 of my sons. Doc says wash their hait while in the lake because the soap gets in their ears and the bacteria can not grow because the water comes out easier (does not allow adhesion to take place)

As a board certified ear specialist, I have to respectfully disagree with your doc on that! Here's a simplified version of ear physiology and my recommendations for recurrent swimmer's ear (otitis externa).

The ear canal is normally protected by wax which has two important characteristics. First, it has some mild antibiotic properties and provides a water repellent coating (hydrophobic). Second, it is slightly acidic. When people remove the wax they remove the physical water-repelling barrier and allow the pH to raise to a more neutral level (which is why most people have itchy ears). The lack of a protective layer and lack of acidic pH are the predisposiing factors to a water-induced infection. The way soap works is that it has both hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties; that is, it will bind to water insoluble particles (think of grease and dish detergent like Dawn) while dissolving in water. Most soaps are also slight alkaline - thus removing two elements of protection. Adhesion of bacteria is normally prevented by wax and an intact epidermis.

My recommendations for preventing swimmers ear: A cheap, simple solution of 50:50 distilled white vinegar and rubbing acohol makes a great ear rinse for use after being in the lake. Mix up a bottle and fill the ear canal with a capful after coming off the lake. Work it in for about 30 seconds then make sure you get all the liquid back out. Use a hair dryer on warm if you still have moisture in the ear canal. Moisture retained in the ear is the culprit in most kids and most q-tippers. The vinegar is dilute acetic acid which lowers the pH of the ear canal and the alcohol lowers the surface tension and viscosity of the fluid to allow for getting all the liquid out of the ear.

My recommendations for itching: Use the same mixture of vinegar and alcohol. Three times a day use a capful to fill the ear canal. Leave it in for about 30 seconds prior to draining the ear completely. Repeat for 2-3 days and the itching should be gone. Repeat the next time your ear starts itching. If this doesn't work, you may want to see an ear doctor as there are other less common causes of itching.

Finally, both problems are improved by keeping the cotton swabs out the ear. Yes, that nothing smaller than your elbow saying has some merit!

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doughickey

After 3 perforations (Footin & Boarding), my left ear will never heal. Perforation won't heal itelf. Doctor says "don't even get lake water in that ear. He winces when I tell him I ski.

After doing my homework, here's what I've been using for 3 years.

Stage 1: Insert an ear plug. I use Doc's ProPlugs. They come premolded in various sizes. They have 2 kinds.... one with a tiny hole (for divers), and a solid one. You can buy on-line, or go to a dive shop. Cost is $10-$15 for a pair. http://www.proplugs.com/

Stage 2: I wear a neoprene headband (called Ear Band-it). Picked up at a medical supply place. Meant for kids with tubes in their ears. I wear this to ensure the plug stays in the ear. I think the cost was about $20.

http://earplugstore.stores.yahoo.net/earbanearret.html

Stage 3: I use a ProTec helmet. The Ace Wake model. Has removable ear flaps. This I wear for all round protection for those sideways falls. Cost under $60 at most ski outlets. http://www.hardheadedsports.com/protec-ace...ing-helmet.html

An eardrum that can't be fixed? Sounds like the Canadian healthcare system is letting you down! You should head south for some good ol' American surgery!

Seriously, great recommendations and a very sensible approach if you're going to live with the perf.

Only been to 2 ENT Doctors. Both had similar stories. They could drill through the skull behind the ear, take some tissue from elsewhere on my body (some places can afford the tissue loss.... other areas can't), and graft a new eardrum. One said it came with a side-bar caution that they come close to the face nerves..... so a remote possibility of damaging one side of my face. Same doctor said it could also dull my taste sensation if they hit another set of nerves by accident. Both said the operation would likely give me back almost full hearing (now I'm at about 60% in that ear). Both said I'd have to stay away from water completely for months. Both said it could be a "weak" spot that could rupture again. The "doomsayer" ENT said that I was begging for a serious infection unless I kept all water out and didn't stop the watersports. The other guy (not such a pessimist) said that if I had been able to avoid infections so far, and the plug/headband/helmet approach was working..... that I could just continue until I DID get an infection. Then, he suggested the operation.

Regardless, I'm interested in your opinion. Obviously you understand both the love of the sport, AND, the medical perspective. (Neither of the 2 ENT folks I talked to had BOTH perspectives.)

Please, give me both sides.

Thanks.

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BlastRlxi
Thanks for some great ear info. We have been battling swimmers ear all year with 2 of my sons. Doc says wash their hait while in the lake because the soap gets in their ears and the bacteria can not grow because the water comes out easier (does not allow adhesion to take place)

Blast--I am guessing your daughter hurt her ear at Kings Island-What happened on what ride? Hope she will be okay. We are headed out the door for KI now.

Yes, she did hurt her ear at Kings Island. She loves riding rides and has been riding the Beast since she met the height requirement. She had been eyeing the Vortex for a while but wasn't quite sure about going upside down so much. My wife convinced her to go on the ride with her. Afterwards, she complained that she hit her head on the protective head restraint and that her ear hurt. Her outer ear was a little red but we didn't think much of it. The next day she swam in the town pool and woke up that night with a bad earache. My wife took her tot he doctor and found a perferated eardrum.

My daughter is 9 and met the height requirement for the ride. I don't really know what happened to cause it but my wife felt really bad for encouraging her to go on.

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LouDoc

After 3 perforations (Footin & Boarding), my left ear will never heal. Perforation won't heal itelf. Doctor says "don't even get lake water in that ear. He winces when I tell him I ski.

An eardrum that can't be fixed? Sounds like the Canadian healthcare system is letting you down! You should head south for some good ol' American surgery!

Seriously, great recommendations and a very sensible approach if you're going to live with the perf.

Only been to 2 ENT Doctors. Both had similar stories. They could drill through the skull behind the ear, take some tissue from elsewhere on my body (some places can afford the tissue loss.... other areas can't), and graft a new eardrum. One said it came with a side-bar caution that they come close to the face nerves..... so a remote possibility of damaging one side of my face. Same doctor said it could also dull my taste sensation if they hit another set of nerves by accident. Both said the operation would likely give me back almost full hearing (now I'm at about 60% in that ear). Both said I'd have to stay away from water completely for months. Both said it could be a "weak" spot that could rupture again. The "doomsayer" ENT said that I was begging for a serious infection unless I kept all water out and didn't stop the watersports. The other guy (not such a pessimist) said that if I had been able to avoid infections so far, and the plug/headband/helmet approach was working..... that I could just continue until I DID get an infection. Then, he suggested the operation.

Regardless, I'm interested in your opinion. Obviously you understand both the love of the sport, AND, the medical perspective. (Neither of the 2 ENT folks I talked to had BOTH perspectives.)

Please, give me both sides.

Thanks.

My orthopedic doc told me to give up wakeboarding and snow skiing - so I know the feeling of the doc not understanding the love of the sport.

First, nothing you mentioned above is incorrect, and it seems you've been well informed of the risks involved. The chances of a facial nerve injury in experienced hands is very, very low (way less than 1%). Most good surgeons will have none or perhaps one or two of those in a 25 year career - and usually in the most complex of cases. If you're not infected, then your case wouldn't be complex, even though the perforation may be large. The low possibility of injury to the chorda tympani nerve is a minor risk and if it happens a temporary, minor problem. It only innervates the anterior 2/3 of the tongue on one side. Your nerve on the other side won't be affected.

The graft material shouldn't be a problem if you've never had ear surgery. Tissue suitable for rebuilding the eardrum is available from right behind the ear on the same side. There is also an option of using cadaver graft material - which may be a good option for a total perforation.

Are you begging for an infection? Yes, absolutely! Should you give up water sports? No, never! Shoud you wait until you do get an infection? No, that would only make the above risks more of a possibility. I try to get all the infection cleared up and then operate - I hate operating on infected ears as the risks go up.

Bottom line: Understanding both every possible risk and outcome what would I do? I would absolutely get it fixed. I would choose my surgeon carefully. I would get it done the week after I winterize my boat. Six weeks of dry ear precautions should be plenty (I usually have my patients stay out of the water for 3 weeks). With a large persistent perforation you are taking a risk every time you get in the water and you're giving up hearing in what sounds like an otherwise normal ear. There are other possible complications of bad ear infections that are rare - meningitis, brain abscess, facial nerve paralysis, hearing nerve damage, vertigo, persistant draining ear, tinnitus (ringing) and taste disturbance! Ironically, the risk of facial nerve injury from infection is higher than an operation in the hands of an experienced surgeon.

No question, if I were in your boots I'd get it fixed, continue with the helmet, but loose the plugs and head band the next season. Hope this helps!

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doughickey

To LouDoc (Keith). Great info & great advice. I will discuss with my ENT guy next visit. 6 weeks of healing sounds fine.

Again, thank for the dual perspective. I needed that!

Doug.

By the way: Do you suspect I would I be able to snorkel and do normal dives off the dock once I'm patched up? (I've missed going underwater this past 5 years.)

Edited by doughickey

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doughickey

To LouDoc (Keith): An update:

I've taken your advice quite seriously.

I had my office consultation with a new ENT Specialist today. As part of the discussion, he let me see my ear drum "hole" on a tv monitor. I thought I had an ear drum "overlap", where the ear drum had a slit. Nope. I've got a ragged hole in the drum, about 25% of the tissue is missing. Wide open into the old noggin. Just imagining lake water with little life forms crawling into my middle ear gave me the creeps. I don't need that worry or painful hassle down the road. Skiing or no skiing.

He did a small test. He inserted/placed a tiny piece of "paper" over my ragged ear drum hole to see if it temporarily improved my hearing in his examination room. I found the room sound was less "muffled", and was a bit louder with the temporary "ear drum" in place. Getting better hearingback is a bonus.

Decision has been made. I'm going under to get the ear repaired. Just waiting for a scheduled date for the elective surgery. He says I'll absolutely be marinely mobile for next season, with a little less headgear than now!

I wasn't heading this way until you provided all your perspective. I really appreciate your advice.

Thanks so much!

Edited by doughickey

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BlastRlxi

Thanks for some great ear info. We have been battling swimmers ear all year with 2 of my sons. Doc says wash their hait while in the lake because the soap gets in their ears and the bacteria can not grow because the water comes out easier (does not allow adhesion to take place)

Blast--I am guessing your daughter hurt her ear at Kings Island-What happened on what ride? Hope she will be okay. We are headed out the door for KI now.

Yes, she did hurt her ear at Kings Island. She loves riding rides and has been riding the Beast since she met the height requirement. She had been eyeing the Vortex for a while but wasn't quite sure about going upside down so much. My wife convinced her to go on the ride with her. Afterwards, she complained that she hit her head on the protective head restraint and that her ear hurt. Her outer ear was a little red but we didn't think much of it. The next day she swam in the town pool and woke up that night with a bad earache. My wife took her tot he doctor and found a perferated eardrum.

My daughter is 9 and met the height requirement for the ride. I don't really know what happened to cause it but my wife felt really bad for encouraging her to go on.

My daughter's ear has not healed yet either and she also may be in for surgery to repair her ear. It is supposed to be fairly simple surgery to repair it. Interestingly, the doctor said the tear is probably in the same spot that her ear tubes were in when she was very young (constant ear infections). The ear tubes did a great job of ending her ear infections but may have made her more susceptable to this type of injury. So, if your kids have had ear tubes in the past, look out for this type of thing.

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G-Pac

I had to see a doctor (ENT) last season after taking a very hard faceplant. I was told that I had retracted eustation tubes likely as a result of water being forced through my nose and into the inner ear when I fell onto my face at high velocity. I mention this b/c I thought a helmet would be useful to prevent ear injuries, but it may not help to prevent this type of injury, just for info. I do wear a helmet now anyway, but more to prevent concussions when learning new inverts/spins.

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relentless

how easy does this happen cause i got a helmet with an ear gaurd and thought they were really nusance so i took them out

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doughickey

Might be worth doing a poll.

I've been pulled behind boats for 40 years. Mostly skiiing, but some footing and a bit of W-boarding. I've perforated ears 3 times.

Simple math says that's about once every 13 years. However, my Canadian skiing season is only 2 months long. So .... more math..... that says my rate of ear perforations was once every 26 months .... which is about once every 2 years for a year-round skier.

Let's face it, most of us play hard when we do it. That says we're gonna take some pretty hard tumbles. My last perforation was at a slow 18 mph. Simply went down too hard on 1 side. Pain is pretty intense. Balance goes out the window. Wrecked my hearing. Open hole for middle ear infection.

Like seat belts. Once you get used to them, it's fine.

My little kids and wife all use them. WITH the ear flaps.

After I get the darn ear grafted back to one piece, I will continue to use the helmet and ear flaps. Don't want to go there ever again! Let's me continue to push real hard when behind the boat.

You got the flaps .... might as well use 'em.

Edited by doughickey

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doughickey

Update on ear perforations. And repercussions:

My last (of 3) perforations/splits won't heal. (The interior of my noggin's been open via open hole in the left ear to the outside for several years.)

Going for the operation Dec 19. They drill (or cut) behind the ear to get to the ear drum ..... slice a slab of skin from behind my ear, and graft it on to the remaining ear drum. Supposed to be under a general anasthaetic for an hour or 2 or 3. Hope they don't get my ear problem mixed up with some other guy's sex-change operation and cut away at the wrong organ. "Pardon Doctor .... I can't hear you .... what did you cut off?"

Again, my preference is that I had worn the darn helmet with flaps from Day 1.

Will let you know the results after.

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