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How to Equalize Your Ears When Diving



 

Listen for the “Pop"


Before going on the dive, start prepping early by stretching your jaw or gently pinch and blow till you hear/feel the "pop" in both ears. This tells you both Eustachian tubes are opening (Shreeves, K., & Campbell, E. 2021).


The method most divers learn: Pinch your nostrils (or close them against your mask skirt) and blow through your nose. The resulting overpressure in your throat usually forces air up your Eustachian tubes (6 Methods to Equalize Your Ears, 2020).


 

Starting Early


It can be helpful to get into the habit of equalizing your ears before you even start scuba diving. This can help reduce the chances of a block early on in your descent and helps you become more familiar with the process of equalization (ipdesign. 2021).


Before going on the dive, begin gently equalizing your ears every few minutes. Chewing gum or drinking water to swallow more often seems to help most people (Shreeves, K., & Campbell, E. 2021).


 

Descend Feet First


Air rises in your Eustachian tubes, while mucus is more fluid-like and tends to drain downward. This means that utilizing an equalization method like the Valsalva maneuver is easier if you’re in a “head-up” position rather than a “head-down” position (ipdesign. 2021).


Studies have shown that equalization can require more force when you're in feet up than in a position than feet down position, but this is not an issue for many divers (Shreeves, K., & Campbell, E. 2021).


 


 

Use a Descent Line


Following an anchor or mooring line can help you control your descent rate, which helps if your ears equalize slowly. A line also helps you stop your descent if they're not equalizing. Equalize as you feel slight pressure differences, don’t wait until you feel significant pressure, discomfort or any pain (Shreeves, K., & Campbell, E. 2021).


 

If you can’t equalize your Ears, Ascend and Try Again


Continuing to descend with un-equalized ears is painful and will lead to middle ear squeeze (blood and fluid forced into the middle ear) and/or ear drum rupture. Never continue descending with un-equalized ears and be sure to signal your buddy to ascend a few feet and try equalizing again (Shreeves, K., & Campbell, E. 2021).


 

Methods Used

  • Voluntary Tubal Opening: Tense your throat and push your jaw forward (S., K. 2022).

  • Toynbee Maneuver: Pinch your nose and swallow (S., K. 2022).

  • Frenzel Maneuver: Pinch your nose and make the sound of the letter “K” (S., K. 2022).

  • Lowry Technique: Pinch your nose, blow and swallow (S., K. 2022).

  • Edmonds Technique: Pinch your nose, blow and push your jaw forward (S., K. 2022).

  • Valsalva Maneuver: Pinch your nose and blow (S., K. 2022).




 

References


Shreeves, K., & Campbell, E. (2021, July 23). How to Equalize Ear Pressure When. Scuba Diving. https://www.scubadiving.com/equalizing-ear-clearing-scuba-diving



S., K. (2022, September 19). How to equalize your ears (Divers Alert Network). (Divers Alert Network). Retrieved January 20, 2023, from https://blog.padi.com/how-to-equalize-your-ears/


ipdesign. (2021, February 9). Tips for Divers That Have Trouble Equalizing. Search Scuba. https://www.searchscuba.com/blog/post/tips-for-divers-that-have-trouble-equalizing/


50ft Below. (2018, September 27). What Happens Inside Your Ear During A Scuba Dive?! | Equalizing Ears Scuba diving [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D31snubWga0



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