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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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October 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 43, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Ear Infections and the ProEar Solution

from the October, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

The ProEar 2000

Several subscribers have written to Undercurrent about the ear infections that cause problems while on dive trips and are often the result of pathogens or micro-organisms in the water entering the outer ear. One, Rose Mueller (Houston, TX), even told us that her husband repeatedly broke an eardrum every time he went into the water. A perforated eardrum will allow that water to enter the middle ear, thus allowing for more serious infection.

The solution for many divers, it seems, is the ProEar mask. It's been available for 17 years or more, but it hasn't caught the imagination of mainstream divers; to many, it looks ridiculous because it employs ear cups that cover the ears to keep them dry. Ridiculous-looking or not, if you'd previously suffered the pain of an ear infection, you wouldn't care.

Ordinary ear cups would suffer pressure squeeze as you went deeper, just as a mask would if it did not enclose your nose and you couldn't blow a little air into it to equalize the pressure. The Pro Ear mask has flexible feed pipes to allow air to migrate from the main part of the mask to the air cups. Thus, they become part of the same airspace. As the air in the mask and the ear cups expands during an ascent, it leaks out past the skirt. Each feed pipe has a one-way valve to stop a possible flood from an ear cup leaking back into the main part of the mask. The outer ears and eardrums are protected from the water.

The only downside is that wearing such a mask often elicits such comments as, "Are you receiving me?" and "Come in, Diver #6" because you look like a radio operator. If you can cope with that, it might be a godsend if you regularly suffer painful ear infections after diving.

The mask -- the ProEar 2000 -- was originally developed by Howard Rosenstein, a Red Sea diving pioneer, in the year 2000. At first, Bob Hollis of Oceanic produced and marketed it in the U.S. After a couple of years, the concept was sold to the Taiwanese manufacturer of dive gear, IST. Thousands of these IST ProEar masks have been sold, and although it is notoriously difficult to get divers to accept new ideas, it has helped many divers, both consumer and professional, who have experienced ear troubles.

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