Experiencing a nosebleed while scuba diving

 

Experiencing a nosebleed while scuba diving isn’t uncommon and even though the sight of blood in your dive mask looks terrifying, a nosebleed isn’t a severe problem as long as it isn’t persistent.

Nose bleeds are witnessed more often with newer divers than with experienced divers simply because of the way a new diver equalizes  as he descends.

New divers frequently report nosebleeds after diving primarily because they are unaware of the importance of equalizing the sinuses and middle ears (via the Valsalva method). The barotrauma that is produced when the sinuses are not cleared can cause blood vessels in the lining of the nose to burst. These vessels lie very close to the top of the mucous membrane lining in the nose and sinuses, and the blood can come from the lining in either. This type of barotrauma, generally the result of air being trapped within the sinuses, is not always painful, though the presence of blood can be disconcerting to a new diver. With this type of injury, blood can run down the back of the throat or pool in the sinus below the eye and emerge at a different time.

Scuba Diving nosebleeds can be categorized :

Nosebleed Scuba Diving During Descent.

These are very common as the nosebleed scuba diving individual is experiencing these effects of a little thing called ‘mask squeeze‘. This is when a scuba diver is often so overwhelmed at the start of the dive that he/she forgets to equalize regularly during a descent trying to keep-up with the group. At 7 meters (22ft) if a diver has not equalized their ears, they will need to ascend in order to do so. However the novice diver often does not want to leave the group and will force equalization, often rupturing the delicate inner lining and capillaries of the nose septum and sinus, causing the nosebleed. Divers must equalize little and often as they go down, and if they reach a depth where they have forgotten to equalize, it is better to ascend a few meters than try to force an equalization at depth.  Mask squeeze results from not equalizing the pressure in the mask to match the water pressure and it creates a vacuum in the mask. This directly affects the nasal passages. . It can easily be remedied by performing a slow descent while frequently adjusting the equalization of the mask.

Reverse sinus squeeze.

In the same manner a nose bleed that occurs during ascent is known as a reverse sinus squeeze, caused when the sinus is at a higher pressure than the outside, and unable to equalize fast enough due to the congestion, it causes the sinus blood vessels to be sucked outward in the form of a nose bleed on ascent. The reverse sinus squeeze can be minimized by slowing your ascent if you suffer from a minor cold or stuffy nose.

Most nosebleeds stop immediately as you come out of the water and don’t warrant an emergency room visit or medical advice. The diving instructor will verse you well on nosebleed scuba diving because although it is common, it scares many potential scuba divers away after only the first time because they have experienced this nosebleed scuba diving and they stay away from it forever not realizing how easy it is to remedy.

Prevention of a nosebleed.

Avoid diving altogether when you have a cold. Knowing when you are fit to dive is vital to diver safety.

If while descent you feel a pain in your forehead or sinuses, call off the dive and surface.

Try blowing your nose gently underwater to see if that helps decongest the sinus, if not ascend.

If your nosebleed is minor, leave it alone, lightly pinch your nose and tilt your head back, and it will heal automatically in 15minutes or so.

Excessive nosebleeds require a doctor’s examination, as often the blood inside the sinus can get infected by bacteria and cause sinus infections other complications so you might need to get it checked out by an ear-nose-and-throat specialist for evaluation.

If you have recurring nosebleeds every dive, you probably have a congested sinus, and will need to take care of it before diving again.

Always remember to descend slowly equalizing gently and frequently, and ascend slowly to allow sinus equalization to take place naturally, and you should have a blood free mask when you surface.

It’s always best not to dive with a cold or any condition that may block the sinus air passages.

Divers who are unable to clear their sinuses or have frequent nosebleeds when scuba diving should see their personal physicians or ear-nose-and-throat specialists for evaluation.

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10 thoughts on “Experiencing a nosebleed while scuba diving

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