Scuba diving as a recreational activity has increased in popularity over the past few years. It is believed that repeated exposure to the hyperbaric environment may have a long term effect on the auditory system. The research literature has given a lot of attention to acute injury but is very limited relating to the long term implications of scuba diving. Previous research studies did not perform a full audiometric test battery. A comprehensive audiological assessment is critical to determine in which part of the ear a pathology may occur during recreational diving. This study endeavoured to assess and describe the hearing abilities and middle ear functioning of the recreational scuba diver and investigate the possibility that diving, on a recreational level, may have an influence on the auditory system. In order to achieve the aims of this study, a descriptive, correlation research design was selected. The results of the current study indicate that scuba diving on a recreational level does not have a significant effect on the hearing and middle ear functioning of the individual, with the exclusion of static compliance. It appears that the inevitable compression and decompression that the middle ears are exposed to during scuba diving might have a more permanent effect on the elasticity of the tympanic membrane. Finally this study aims to increase the awareness of possible risks concerning the auditory system relating to scuba diving and in so doing, attribute to the prevention, diagnosing and intervention of diving related ear injuries.
Dissertation (M (Communication Pathology))--University of Pretoria, 2007.