Only the Eustachian tubes that run to the back of your throat provide a connection between your middle ears and the outside world.
Middle ear barotrauma—the most frequent pressure-related ear injury—occurs when the pressure in your middle ears is not increased to match the pressure in your outer and inner ears.
The normally closed Eustachian tubes must be opened in order to perform safe equalization. Each has a kind of one way valve at its lower end called the “Eustachian cushion,” which prevents contaminants in your nose from migrating up to your middle ears. It usually takes conscious effort to open the tubes so that air with a higher pressure from your throat can enter your middle ears. It usually works by swallowing.
When To Equalize Pressure During Diving
Scuba diving requires equalization, which is a crucial skill. The pressure on your outer ear will rise as you go deeper into the water, so you must raise the pressure in your middle ear to keep up with the pressure outside. Otherwise, you could suffer “middle ear barotrauma,” which can damage blood vessels and nerves in your ear.
The most common way to equalize pressure in your ears is with the “Valsalva maneuver.” All you need to do is pinch your nose shut or press your mask skirt up against your nostrils. Next, take a nosedive.
sooner and more frequently than you might imagine. The majority advise equalizing every two feet (.6 meters) of descent, but frequently it’s too late. That equates to an equalization every two seconds at a fairly slow descent rate of 60 ft (18.288 m) per minute. Many divers descend much more quickly, and they should always be balancing.
Tips For Equalizing Ear Pressure
Whether you need help “clearing” or “popping” your ears, the best ways to equalize ear pressure when diving involves a few simple steps.
Listen For The “pop”
Before you even board the boat, make sure that when you swallow, stretch your jaw or gently pinch and blow you hear/feel the “pop” in both ears. The opening of both eustachian tubes is indicated by this.
Tilt Your Head Up A Bit
By the way, freedivers aren’t advised to extend their necks because it could cause a blackout. Extending your neck tends to open your eustachian tubes.
If You Can’t Equalize Your Ears, End The Dive
It hurts and can result in middle ear squeeze (where blood and fluid are forced into the middle ear) and/or ear drum rupture if you continue to descend with unbalanced ears. Always signal your buddy (or instructor, if you’re in a class) before continuing your descent. You must inform another diver if you want them to know you cannot equalize.
Avoid Things That Produce Mucus
Avoid things that cause mucus because they can contribute to congestion, a common cause of equalization issues. You can produce more mucus as a result of eating some foods, including milk. In addition to the numerous other reasons to avoid tobacco smoke and never dive while intoxicated, both alcohol and tobacco smoke irritate your mucous membranes. Maintaining a dry mask may be beneficial because a little bit of water in it can make you a little snotty.
Use A Descent Line
You can control how quickly you descend by adhering to an anchor or mooring line, which is made easier by slowly ear-averaging. If they aren’t equalizing, a line also enables you to quickly halt your descent.
Early and frequently equalize, maintaining pressure as you descend. Don’t hold off until you experience intense pressure, discomfort, or pain. As you detect slight pressure differences, equalize.
Stop If It Hurts
There should be no pain at all if you equalize properly and frequently enough. Your eustachian tubes may become blocked if equalization is delayed due to the pressure difference. Ascend a few feet, then try re-equalizing.
Start gently equalizing your ears every few minutes starting several hours prior to the dive. Because it forces you to swallow frequently, chewing gum appears to be beneficial for some people.
Descend Head Higher Than Feet
According to studies, it may take more force to equalize with your feet up than with them down, but for many divers, this is not a problem.
5 Better Ways To Equalize Your Ears
1. Toynbee Maneuver – Pinch Your Nose and Swallow
Swallow while your nose is squeezed or blocked by the skirt of your mask. While your nose is closed, swallowing forces the air against your Eustachian tubes while tongue motion compresses air against them.
2. Lowry Technique – Pinch Your Nose, Blow and Swallow
Combining Toynbee and Valsalva: blow and swallow simultaneously while closing your nostrils.
3. Edmonds Technique – Pinch Your Nose and Blow and Push Your Jaw Forward
Do a Valsalva maneuver by tensing the muscles in your throat, soft palate, and jaw, as well as the soft tissue at the back of your mouth.
4. Frenzel Maneuver – Pinch Your Nose and Make the Sound of the Letter “K”
As if lifting a weight, close your nostrils and the back of your throat. Then make the sound of the letter “K.” As a result, air is compressed against the openings of your Eustachian tubes, forcing the back of your tongue upward.
5. Voluntary Tubal Opening – Tense Your Throat and Push Your Jaw Forward
As you begin to yawn, push your jaw forward and downward and tense the muscles in your soft palate and throat. These muscles force open the Eustachian tubes. Some divers, with a lot of practice, can learn to control those muscles and hold their tubes open for continuous equalization.
We can take it for granted that we will eventually learn to equalize while diving. Our ears contain many incredible parts that require proper care. Before you dive, consult some experts if you have any ear problems. Ask your doctor about barotraumas if you prefer.