How not to pick up infections or Radio 5

Howard Rosenstein is an Israeli who discovered the wreck of the ss Dunraven in the Red Sea. He thought it was Lawrence of Arabia's ship and loaded with gold. It wasn't. Then he discovered ear infections. His ProEar 2000 mask is designed to prevent them and it might make him the money he was looking for.

Like all good ideas, it is remarkably simple. It's the sort of thing you might look at and ask: "Why didn't I think of that?" The ProEar 2000 encloses the ears behind a couple of headphone-like barriers. These keep the water out as effectively as earplugs might, hence no infections from water-borne pathogens. "A nasty case of reversed ear on the way," you might think. So keeping the pressure on the ears equalised became the real problem to be solved.

ProEar 2000

Easy. Enclose the ears within the same airspace as the eyes and nose. How? Connect the earpieces to the mask using small flexible pipes, so that as the diver automatically exhales into the mask by way of the nose to equalise the pressure as he goes deeper, the increased pressure is shared with the ears. Each tube has a simple one-way valve to stop any water in a flooded mask reaching the ears. It works. I found that the headphone earpieces were large enough to enclose even my manly lugs. Like the mask, the earpieces each have a flexible silicone skirt to provide a watertight seal. The mask has a strap with a large silicone pad at the back to provide a secure position and there is provision for an additional velcro and neoprene pad which passes across the top of the head. All this makes you look a bit like a radio-operator, and I had to endure the jibes of those who constantly wanted to know which station I was listening to.

Naturally the hair that is close to your ears tends to get caught in the seal. You can clear any ingress of water from the mask in the normal way but if you remove the mask under water, on putting it back you must hold it firmly and evenly against your face and exhale through your nose to expel any water from the earpieces. The first moments of my first dive involved a lot of minor strap adjustments, which it seems you cannot carry out successfully in air. One problem I did not foresee arose because with my ears now in an air space I could hear much better, the earpieces acting as sounding boards. The noise of my exhaled bubbles was much louder than normal and the other sounds around me seemed to be amplified. I got used to it.

I have never suffered an ear infection. I do not use ear-drops and my doctor has advised me not to. He says my body is well-equipped to deal with the problem and I should do nothing to upset the natural balance. However, my wife gets ear-ache on every diving trip (not from me, I hasten to add). She seems to pick up infections very easily, and for divers like her the ProEar 2000 mask is a godsend. If it makes Howard any money, he deserves it. Look at the mask of any dive guide who works in a tropical location. I can guarantee it will be filthy with algae growth. If you get yourself a ProEar 2000 mask,, be careful to keep it clean.