A FEW YEARS AGO, at the beginning of a trip to Indonesia, I asked if I could do some “muck-diving” to locate and photograph critters that I hadn’t seen before.
The dive-site was selected by my guides and turned out to be adjacent to a small fishing village set right on the beach.
In we went, and I soon realised why this might be regarded as a muck-site. Human waste in
the form of discarded flotsam and jetsam was strewn over the seabed; old training shoes, tin cans, boxes, plastic water bottles, sunk boats and engine parts were everywhere, forming nice hidey-holes for juvenile marine life.
I found lots at which to point my camera, and eventually spotted a beautiful porcelain crab sharing its anemone with some clownfish. The crab was feeding, I noticed… on human faeces.
When I realised what I was seeing, I immediately terminated the dive, got out of the filthy water and returned to the shore. There was nowhere to shower until I got back to my room two hours later, eeeeooogh!
The following night my ears started to itch, followed by severe pain a day later. I had an ear infection and my diving was all over just three days into a two-week trip.
Medical help was limited to some eardrops that seemed to do nothing. After a very painful flight home, a trip to see my GP and a course of antibiotics, my ears returned to normal.
The next trip was to the Maldives a few months later, and the ear problem flared again, with more antibiotics needed to sort it out.
The next two trips to Bali and North Sulawesi resulted in the same scenario. I was in trouble (medically speaking) and was losing all my valuable dive-time on trips that were costing
a fortune.
It was time to get it sorted out once and for all. I booked a private appointment to see an ear specialist at the Hampshire Clinic. He told me that my ears were in good shape, but I had suffered from and was susceptible to swimmer’s ear, a condition that is very common with anyone who spends time in the water.
“The solution is simple,” he told me. “Either stay out of the water or use preventative measures.” I was advised to dry my ears thoroughly after every dive and to make them waterproof before getting wet.

Earol SwiM Tea Tree Oil
The Earol product is a combination of surgical-grade sterile olive oil and tea tree oil, the latter having natural antibiotic properties.
The theory is that a few drops sprayed into the outer ear coats the delicate skin lining the auditory canal, creating a water-resistant barrier that prevents water from soaking into the pores, along with any bacteria that can multiply and cause infection.
Earol SwiM comes in a 10ml pump spray bottle with a removable, cleanable applicator to deliver a metered dose straight to the required area in the ear.
A single application can last all day and is good for multiple dives. It is supplied with a robust, clip-lid container to keep everything dry and free from dirt and other contaminants.

ClearEars Water Absorbing Plugs
These soft non-toxic foam ear plugs draw in and hold water directly from the ear canal.
Designed to be used once the dive is over, they’re rolled between the thumb and forefinger to compress them before inserting into the outer ear, where they swell to mimic the contours and gently absorb moisture to leave everything dry.
These earplugs are suitable only for single use and must be discarded afterwards. The manufacturers claim that they can be cut up after use and placed in the soil of houseplants to retain valuable moisture.
They are supplied in 10s (five pairs) in a plastic container to keep them dry and dirt-free.

Conclusion
I’ve been using Earol SwiM for the past 18 months, and with around a dozen dive trips in that time I have not had a single ear problem.
Last year I spent three weeks diving four times a day in Papua New Guinea, the most remote of destinations, with medical attention a long boat, drive and flight away, An ear infection here would have been nothing short of catastrophic.
I’m not a doctor but I can say that the proof is in the pudding (for me anyway). This little bottle has proved to be an invaluable travelling companion, and after this necessarily long-term test I wouldn’t go on a dive trip without one.
I’ve been using the ClearEars plugs for the past month and they do what it says on the tin, gently drying the ears after a day’s diving.
The only gripe I have is that as they’re supplied in tens I needed three packs for a fortnight’s trip – which is £15-worth.
One last thing; do make sure you don’t have any allergic reactions to any of these products before using them.

SPECS
EAROL SWIM TEA TREE OIL
PRICE £9
BOTTLE SIZE 810ml
CONTACT www.earolswimtto.co.uk
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CLEAREARS WATER ABSORBING PLUGS
PRICE £5
CONTENT 10 plugs
CONTACT www.clearears.com
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