nose or ears?

The biggest complaint I read about when kayakers submerse for a roll is water in the nose. I have never gotten water up and THROUGH the nose and into my lungs and do not understand how that can happen. Everybody has the ability to close off that opening. Perhaps I am misunderstanding the nature of the complaint. Is it that some find water in the nose to be uncomfortable or is it that water is passing through the nose into the lungs?

What I can never avoid is getting water in the ear and that IS uncomfortable as it takes a good while for it to drain. Just curious which is the problem for most. (perhaps both for some)

Fresh Water
Jim, from your profile I take it you paddle salt water mostly. When I take people sea kayaking or go surf kayaking I’ve noticed that salt water is nowhere nearly as irritating as freshwater swooshing up my nose. Of course in surf you get the possibility of being sand blasted but that just comes with the turf/surf :wink:

Just my $.02

See you on the water & wish I was paddling in FL,


sinus problems
I didn’t use a nose plug the first year that I was learning to roll and it didn’t really seem to bother me except for an occasional sinus headache caused from water up the nose. Since then I have learned that sometimes people can develope sinus problems from repeatedly doing this. I took others advice and use a nose plug when practiceing rolls. It seems to help me focus more on the roll then trying to slowly let the water out of my nose. Water in my ears can sometimes make me loose my equilibrium for a short period of time but it doesn’t really bother me and I haven’t heard of anyone haveing problems from this. Do what works for you.

Sinus Pressure
I find water up my nose to be so uncomfortable that, at least until I have something predictable in a roll, it gets in the way of my being able to focus and execute one. It matters not that it can’t get into my lungs. I have read and heard that in a real life situation this is not an issue for at least the first attempt - am guessing that in a real emergency people go down with enough air trapped in their nostrils to five them a little time.

So far I have only managed to forget to put on the nose plugs or mask in fresh water lakes or indoor pools - figure I’ll be working out the “plug-free” alternative in salt water when we go to Maine this coming summer. By that time I should have worked out my mistakes so I can do some useful practice in the cove/bay. I am encouraged to hear that it shouldn’t feel so awful.


Sinus and ear infections
They can go hand-in-hand. Be careful.

I can’t stand water up the nose because I get sinus infections easily, due to a very constricted, twisty sinus passage that does not drain well.

As someone else mentioned, salt water is not nearly as problematic. But where I live it’s fresh-water paddling only.

As for the ears, a doctor noted that one eardrum has a “tiny puncture” in it. That may explain why water in my ears often gets stuck in there and leaves me with reduced, distorted hearing in one side while also making funny noises as it moves around in there. I hate it.

Anyway, I use both noseclips and ear plugs when practicing rolls. While a real-life roll would mean doing without those items (quite frankly, in such a situation, adrenaline rush would probably inure me to the discomfort of doing without), I figure that it’s good practice to avoid inundating ears and nose if I know I’m going to put my head under. Fewer opportunities for the cooties to take hold.

of the ears if you roll in cold water. Needs a hood and maybe ear plugs. Also just rolling into the water with vigor can cause some slapping of the ears. Doc’s pro plugs or a really dry hood are the answer there.

At to water in the nose, I recommend a dive mask while you are first learning to roll, nose clips while rolling for most practice. and occasionaly practice with the equipment you paddle with.

I am more annoyed by the nose infiltration, becasue if im rolling in cols water I’m wearing a hood

in the lungs?
water doesn’t go up the nose and into the lungs unless you breath it in … in which case you’ve a much bigger problem than a simple sinus headache.

water DOES however, go up the nose and into the sinuses where it causes some irritation and alot of people, a headache. since your blood volume and tissue fluids are comprises of ‘salt’ water, this doesn’t seem to happen when you roll in the ocean. it’s fresh water that gives people a problem.

Follow the suggestions here…
…about using the mask at first. While water up you nostrils may not get farther, when you’re upside down and running short on air it doesn’t feel that way.

Mask is very helpful for the initial phases of getting comfortable and oriented underwater. Then once you start to get your roll, keep the mask on but roll with eyes closed (by then it will make no difference if you can see or not as you’ll know how it feels). Then move to nose clip with eyes closed. Then do it without anything occasionally.

Only real drawback I found with the mask is it can encourage you to look in directions you should not mid roll (like at the boat or sky to see where you’re at - instead of out toward the blade) and that causes your head to be up and your roll to fail. Any added resistance or weight is minor. The comfort factor more than compensates.

delayed problems
Since quite a few of us practice these things repeatedly, there are problems that develop that would not from one time or occasional water up the nose and in the ears. The difficulty is that the consequences do not always show up until later, making it hard to realize one is doing oneself in and hard to know how one gave oneself the problem.

Swimmer’s ear is one major problem. This is an infection in the skin of the ear canal, similar to an infection anywhere else on the skin such as from a scrape or a bite. It is different from an ear infection, which occurs in the middle ear space behind the eardrum. Swimmer’s ear infection occurs external to the ear drum in the ear canal. HOW DOES SWIMMER’S EAR OCCUR?

When water gets stuck in the ear canal after swimming or bathing, the water can irritate the skin of the ear canal. This irritated skin then gets invaded by bacteria. This infection will fester until it builds up enough to cause pain. This can occur over a few hours, or can take several days.Lake water is the most likely to cause an infection, followed by ocean water, bath water, then pool water. This can be serious leading to thickening of these surfaces, more infection, and loss of hearing. Otitus media, middle ear infections are also painful and important to treat.

Sinus infections are similarly caused by intake of bacteria, irritation of the mucous membranes, inflamation and blockage that prevents draining.

Cold water in sinuses can trigger vagus nerve reactions affecting one’s pulse and blood pressure. Cold water in ears can make one extremely dizzy and nauseous for a number of minutes, especially not good in recovery situations.

I swim 6 days a week
during the off season and wear a dive mask in the pool. My mask BTW has a leak and I’m holding out for a new one-so I often swim with the nose cavity filled with pool water-yup, chlorine-worse than salt water I betcha! It will get you used to water swirling around your nose using this leaky mask method…as a diver you have to learn how to don your mask in deep water and doff it which means clearing the water out of the mask before wearing it again. You have to remember to calm down and block off the water from enterring when rolling if mot wearing a nose plug- in short WEAR a nose plug-it’s easier since you have one less thing to think about.

I slowly blow bubbles
out the nose when submerged and never get water in the sinus. I am guessing that most just hold their air by closing the nose completely and then the water may be invading the sinus cavity. With that slight trickle of air out the nose, the water stays out.

But I can’t blow air out my ears and so nothing stops the water.

Not so easy when practicing rolling
I do that slow release thing too, learned that long ago for swimming. Works fine for that - or even sitting upside down prior top wet exit.

Somehow, going over/getting into setup position, and moving through the water hooking together all the roll elements, it doesn’t work so simply. One more thing to focus on and coordinate, when you already have too many.

Maybe you can multi-task better than I - but I am very relaxed in the water and still find the water gets up there. As the rolling gets easier, I’ll be able to work on that more.

Early on though, particularly before you can roll, that trickle of air will be coming out too fast - and can limit you to one attempt on a breath instead of three. Three attempts and a bit of water up the nose is more useful than one attempt and a dry nose. A chest full of air also offers more buoyancy (and peace of mind) than if you are less full from blowing out.

Use mask. Use plugs. You’ll learn a LOT faster (asuming you want to) - and can ditch them later if you want.

For one ear i use a wax
ear block which has its negatives. Hearing is one but the other is when I was pushed down deep into the water as in a “hole”. As a result i experienced pressure building up into the inner ear. The result was some minor pain for a week following. I should have been using an ear plug that allowed for some pressure release. I still have learned from that lesson. In another example i have experienced temporarily dizziness when water enterred the inner ear when i did not use an ear plug… Yea, ears and nose are a problem in rolling.

Chesapeake Bay soup
for three years I was able to roll in the bay with no apparent problem,then started getting ear infections even after consistant ear washings ,religious use of ear plugs helped but then even a few drops of bay crud into my sinuses would mess me up . I suspect I’m carrying around a microcosm of bay ecology in my sinuses or have become sensitized to where it doesn’t take much to cause a re-infection. I don’t have the same problem in the ocean.

For preventing swimmers ear a
dropper bottle with some alcohol with a bit oc an ascorbic acid (vitamin c) tablet makes a great ear dryer. Warm it up to body temp first!

Things don’t grow as well in dry environments.

one other minor point…
I have a pool and have determined that sea water is more gentle on the ear and nose than pool water.

Just don’t over dry - or over clean!
Many ear infections result from lack of natural protection: Ear wax! Stuff provides a powerful antibacterial and general protective layer. Keeping the ears too dry and too clean breaches the barrier and opens you up to infections.

People that suffer a lot of ear infections are usually frequent ear cleaners. Especially bad in winter with the drier air - made even worse when heated.

Last annoying tidbit. Households with smokers have 5 times the number of ear infections (whether the others smoke or not).

so true greyak
I found the ear wax deal true, used some silicon earplugs for awhile, and it removed some of the wax and got nasty reaction. More careful not to do that now!

It may be that the pollution levels
in the bay have risen to the point of polluting your sinuses! I’ve been told that there have been advisories on limiting crab consumption from the bay during the past few seasons.

Funny thing is…
… once you stop cleaning the wax out, you stop getting so much wax. Naturally tapers off once you stop the constant irritation. Then they’re pretty much self cleaning.

Reminds me of a friend who was addicted to Chapstic. His lips got so they needed it, and would dry and crack horribly without it. He used it many times a day, everyday. One day he mentioned how he was sick of needing it. I made him a bet if he went three weeks without, his lips would go back to normal and he wouldn’t need it. Only took two weeks.