>In your husband's case, it seems the barotrauma was sufficient to cause bleeding into the middle ear - this is why the mucus appeared black. The constant pressure exerted on the tiny bony structures and delicate internal membranes of the inner ear is what produced your husband's symptoms. This sounds as though he had a fairly serious barotrauma and was fortunate he didn't rupture his eardrum or one of the internal membranes of the ear - which could result in a decreased or permanent loss of hearing. The small incision in the eardrum, or myringotomy, may help to drain the ear of excess mucus and provide an opening to ambient air, which can help dry out the middle ear. If the ear was full of blood and other tissue fluids during the flight, an increase in symptoms would not have necessarily occurred, since the lowered pressure in the aircraft cabin would have been transmitted through the fluid-filled middle ear chamber.
>The ability to clear mucus from the nasal passages is important, but it will not necessarily prevent middle-ear or sinus barotrauma. The safest approach to preventing middle-ear or sinus barotrauma is to avoid any discomfort in these air spaces. Once you have gone beyond discomfort to experiencing pain, you may have already drawn fluid into these spaces. This can have immediate consequences, like blocking the passage of air back out of the air space. Depending on the severity of the injury, six months is not too long to wait before diving again. In fact, such injuries may keep a diver from diving again if the eustachian tube or the structures of the middle ear have been damaged permanently. Since only time will tell, another complete examination is advisable for your husband, and it should probably include a hearing test.