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Old 06-08-2011   #11
NathanH.'s Avatar
N/A, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 325
Happened to me at the end of my season last year. I ignored ear plugs and went without. The pain is some sort of serious. I use doc's every single day I paddle now and I remember drinking heavily at night for some reason the pain seems to get worse then...

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Old 06-08-2011   #12
OlyPen, Washington
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 85
I used to wear the Xmas-tree type plugs. No longer recommend them, because (as someone mentioned) your ears still feel water pressure. And ironically, these things feel worse if there's any leakage.

The other problem with the tree-type plugs is that if you ever blow out slightly through your nose while wearing nose clips (good practice for when you do NOT wear nose clips, as it reduces the amount of water entering the sinuses), there is pressure against your ears from INSIDE.

I now wear the vented Doc's earplugs PLUS a neoprene cap that covers the ears. This combo keeps the ears protected from sudden high water pressure, yet hearing is still good. A little water will work its way beyond the plugs, but this is easily removed.

Whatever water remains in my ears, I clean with a 50/50 vinegar/isopropyl alcohol mix. An eyedropper is easiest to use, but mostly I put the mix in a small plastic squirt bottle that REI sells in the cooking-gear section.

And I'd stay out of the water until the ruptured ear is totally healed!

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Old 06-08-2011   #13
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 141
I ruptured an eardrum several years ago paddling. I assumed that my doc would tell me I couldn't paddle until it healed. But he surprised me and said I could paddle as I wore silicone ear plugs like these, which are available at most drug stores: macks Pillow Soft Earplugs White 6 PR 7.

They keep your ear very dry and provide a way better seal that Doc's Pro Plugs IMHO. But then again, you can't hear a damn thing with them in, so they're really a last resort sort of option.
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Old 06-08-2011   #14
tj@cu's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 983
I've done it twice paddling and twice not paddling, I'm surprised your ENT didn't have recomendations for earplugs. I got some specially fitted to my ear that work great. I would go for the cheap wax for short term and then something else long term just because you are not going to get the same seal from docs as something fitted to you.
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Old 06-08-2011   #15
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 57
Macks plugs (wax) are very effective and reasonably affordable for the short term. Available at any CVS, Rite Aid, etc. I use Mack's whenever the water temp is below about 50 or so to help prevent surfers ear. One or two packs last me from November through April (about 30-45 paddling days). Doc's are good too, but I don't like having to worry about losing or cleaning them. I keep the little case in my truck and once one pair gets a little grungy, I just toss them and grab another pair.

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