Nosebleed after diving FAQ

Nosebleed after diving

DAN medics and researchers answer your questions about dive medicine.
I have noticed that beginning scuba divers often get nosebleeds after dives. What causes them?
Divers, especially new divers, sometimes report nosebleeds after diving primarily because they are unaware of the importance of equalizing the sinuses and middle ears. The barotrauma that results when the sinuses are not equalized can cause blood vessels in the lining of the nose to burst. These vessels lie very close to the mucous membranes that line the nose and sinuses, and the blood can come from either of these linings. 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. With this type of injury, blood can also run down the back of the throat or pool in the sinus below the eye and emerge later. It can also act as a growth medium for bacteria and lead to sinus infections.
Individuals with a history of sinus trouble, allergies, a broken nose or a deviated septum as well as divers who currently have a cold may find equalization difficult and may experience problems with nosebleeds. It’s always best to not dive with a cold, congestion or any other condition that might block the sinus passages.
We suggest a slow, gentle descent with frequent equalizing to help decrease the risk of sinus barotrauma. Divers who are unable to equalize their sinuses or have frequent nosebleeds when scuba diving should see their personal physician or a specialist in ear, nose and throat (ENT) care for evaluation.
— Dan Nord, EMT-P, CHT


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