Diving several times a day during a week’s diving causes damage to the structures of the ear, Brazilian research suggests.

Due to the condition known as middle ear squeeze, scuba diving has become one of the main causes of barotrauma. Barotrauma typically occurs to air spaces within a body when that body moves to or from a higher pressure environment.

The Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease study by the Universidade de Sao Paulo used 19 experienced divers. These divers undertook four dives per day on five consecutive days. Their eardrums were examined by creating variations of air pressure in the ear canal. The researchers found repeated dives caused damage to the eardrum and within the middle ear. However, when there was a surface interval of 11 hours between dives the damage did not occur

The scientists suggest that extending surface intervals may offer protection against middle ear barotrauma in recreational scuba diving.

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