Vertigo during a dive – Which way is up?

Vertigo during a dive – Which way is up?

Have you ever experience vertigo doing a dive?

It’s the same feeling you get when spinning to many time around. Often when it happens it’s due to different pressure on your eardrums ex if one ear is equalized and the other isn’t.

As soon as the other ear “pops” you should be fine and the vertigo is long gone.

Vertigo can also happen if you can’t equalize and your eardrum rupture, the vertigo comes due to cold water entering the middle ear. This will also be accompanied with a great deal of pain in the ear, just before the drum rupture, and a big pain relive just after the burst, followed by vertigo.

Vertigo on a dive can give you the feeling that the world is turning up side down, and this can be very frightening underwater.

Watch the bubbles

Diver experiancing vertigo

Tomasz Szymanski

If the vertigo continues it is best to end the dive and exit the water, but when you are completely lost on up and down the ascent can be difficult. You can always watch the bubbles, unless there is really strong downwards current, they’re always going up.

Remember to ascend as slowly as possible, especially if you not able to look at your dive computer or depth gauge.

Another good way to know which way is up is to look at the water in your mask. Water will always go down, so go the opposite way of the water drops in your mask.

Signal your buddy

Always, always signal your dive buddy that you have a problem.

You might not have a signal for vertigo but hopefully she'll be able to see what’s going on. Otherwise the signal: ‘problem’, followed by the ‘up’ signal, this should make her swim to you and assist your ascent.

The vertigo might stop after some time this doesn’t mean your problem is solved but rather that the water inside your ears has heated to body temperature.

You still need to end dive and have your ear checked by a physician who’s specialized in ear, nose and throat.

Vertigo on a dive

Rich Carey

Have you ever lost control on a dive?

Have you ever had problems with vertigo during a dive? How did it happen and how did you solve the problem?

About The Author

Torben Lonne

Torben is a top skilled PADI MSDT instructor. He has worked several years with scuba diving in Indonesia and Thailand - and dived most of his life in most of the world. He is also the co-founder and chief-editor of DIVE.in you can always catch him here [email protected]

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