Can Scuba Diving Cause Nostril Collapse?


Scuba diving is an exhilarating underwater adventure that allows us to explore the depths of the ocean. However, there are certain risks associated with scuba diving, one of which is nostril collapse. This condition occurs when the pressure inside the nasal cavity becomes too great, causing the nostrils to collapse inward.

Causes of Nostril Collapse

Nostril collapse during scuba diving is typically caused by:

Valsalva maneuver: The Valsalva maneuver involves forcibly exhaling while holding the nose and mouth closed. This technique is commonly used to equalize the pressure in the ears during diving. However, if the nostrils are not properly sealed during the maneuver, it can cause excessive pressure buildup in the nasal cavity, leading to nostril collapse.
Nasal congestion: Nasal congestion, such as due to a cold or allergies, can make it difficult to equalize the pressure in the ears during diving. This can lead to increased pressure in the nasal cavity and nostril collapse.
Anatomical factors: Some people have a narrow nasal passage or other anatomical abnormalities that make them more susceptible to nostril collapse during diving.

Symptoms of Nostril Collapse

The symptoms of nostril collapse may include:

Difficulty breathing through the nose
Nasal pain or discomfort
Stuffy or congested nose
Nasal discharge
Facial swelling

Diagnosis and Treatment

Nostril collapse is diagnosed by a doctor through a physical examination and a history of the symptoms. Treatment may include:

Nasal decongestants: Nasal decongestants can help to reduce nasal congestion and make it easier to breathe through the nose.
Topical nasal steroids: Topical nasal steroids can help to reduce inflammation in the nasal cavity and improve airflow.
Nasal irrigation: Nasal irrigation with saline solution can help to clear nasal congestion and promote healing.
Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct anatomical abnormalities that are causing nostril collapse.

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Prevention of Nostril Collapse

To prevent nostril collapse during scuba diving, it is important to:

Equalize the pressure in your ears gradually: Avoid sudden changes in depth that can cause excessive pressure buildup in the nasal cavity.
Use the Valsalva maneuver correctly: Hold your nose and mouth closed and gently exhale. Do not force the exhale.
Clear your nose before diving: If you have nasal congestion, use a nasal spray or irrigate your nose with saline solution before diving.
Seek professional help: If you have a history of nostril collapse or experience any symptoms during diving, seek medical attention promptly.


Nostril collapse is a serious condition that can occur during scuba diving. By understanding the causes and symptoms of nostril collapse and taking appropriate preventive measures, you can reduce your risk of experiencing this condition. If you do experience nostril collapse, seek medical attention promptly for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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