Great blog and post; Informative and well written as always. I wanted to pick your brain concerning our bodies and the strain on multiple dives per day. Iíve gone out as you have and performed 100-150 dives in a single day. But trying to go back out the next day I regularly seem to have a sinus issue and cannot manage to clear, even after taking Sudafed, or any other remedy. Do you have a secret solution? You happen to dive a fair bit more than most of us manage to do, is it conditioning? Do you take breaks and break up your diving such as going fishing with line and reel one day in between dive days?

Also with regards to breath hold on land, especially static, I find it extremely challenging to relax or stay focused as one would otherwise when actually pursuing game underwater. I think a great deal has to do with my severe A.D.H.D., but perhaps it is because we all push a little harder to dive a little longer, or deeper in pursuit of a trophy fish than we ordinarily will on land when we have nothing to distract our discomfort.

Keep up the amazing writing, many of us live vicariously through you.


Good to hear from you Rinaldo and yes I do have sinus issues every once in a while but rarely thank goodness.†

Every one of our bodies are different and some people are more prone to having sinus issues than others so no matter how well you take care of yourself sometimes you cannot change your body.

If and when I get sinus issues it is usually after diving for about 3-4 hours I’ll make a dive and despite not having any other symptoms leading up to that point, get blocked and cannot clear. I immediately head for the surface and NEVER try to force a clearing of my ears of sinuses.† This is your favorite thing to do in the world and you can permanently damage your sinuses or ears to where you can never dive again so take care of them!

I get to the surface, take my mask off and blow my nose and hack and cough and try to bring up as much of the phlegm in my head as possible and get it out.

If the boat is near, this is a good time to take a break too as the most important part of healthy diving and keeping clear sinuses is being well hydrated. I once read that you should drink one bottle of water per hour of diving and I do my best to have at least 2-3 before I ever get in the water and drink one at least every two hours during the day. Hydration (or lack their of) is one of the key factors in preventing not only sinus issues but also Shallow Water Blackout and you need to always remember you are burning lots fuel so take care of yourself.

I am sure you have also heard, “don’t eat cheese, apples, or milk” as these foods all tend to build mucus in your mouth and throat and cannot be very helpful for your sinuses.†† Again, some people have very sensitive systems and one piece of cheese might throw them off so watch your diet and maybe that will help.

I am not a pharmacist and take drugs only as a last resort and cannot recommend any here but talk to your doctor and see if he recommends a daily decongestant and then something more powerful to take the day you are diving. I like to dive on a clear head and unless I am really stopped up try not to.

The most important thing to do is to stay hydrated and to immediately stop your descent when you can’t clear.† Come up, blow your nose and then try to dive again and you will most likely see that you can make it without many issues after that.

and yes like you said I cannot hold my breath on land for very long.† I believe when you and I hit the water we slip into that immediate dream state that has something to do with the mammalian dive reflex which relaxes us and allows us to stay down long.† I’ve often related the feeling of being in the water at depth to people who aren’t divers as the same feeling you get when someone has you wrapped in a warm blanket in the most comfortable position you’ve ever been. It is so relaxing and nice you could almost fall asleep….. and before you know it you’ve held your breath for 2 minutes!

Cameron Kirkconnell

6 Responses to “Sinus issues and diving question”

  1. the milk-mucus thing is a pure placebo effect (but still widely spread myth under divers and freedivers) like the following meta study shows

  2. Cousin Blake says:

    I have the same problem. Here’s how I fix it. Boil water, add Vicks vapor rub. Put a towel over your head and breath in the steam. It will open up the sinuses with causing swelling like Afrin. Also, if you already have an infection, add a drop of iodine. Rolo Veloso told me about that a long time ago and it works like a charm.

  3. Glad for Wolfgang truly and I want to stay open to the possibility of a placebo effect but I sure don’t think so. I drink milk and my head and throat just get all full of mucus. I will check out the study though.

  4. ORspearo666 says:

    I’ve found that while I’m static breathhold training if I keep my mind busy (reading hawaii skindiver or playing mahjonng on the comp)I can hold my breath longer. This may not work for everyone but if I sit and watch numbers click on a stopwatch I cant hold my breath worth a poop.

  5. Rasem Husani says:

    if you google dairies + mucus you’ll find tons of evidence supporting it. in fact, people with respiratory or gastrointestinal cancers are advised routinely not to consume dairy products regularly as the increased mucus production can propagate the cancerous cells along the involved system.

    however, like wolfgang said, studies proved it false:

    this also the position mayo clinic adopted.

  6. I dairy products in general, such as milk, butter and cheese, do not cause increase mucus production nor thickening. However, ingestion of yogurt will thicken your secretions, and should be avoided if experiencing upper respiratory infections such as sinusitis and bronchitis.

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