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Having a hard time equalizing your ears? Seems to take forever, maybe hurts like hell to get down?
My Top 10 Equalizing Tips Should Help You Out
So, you love scuba diving but
First of all, equalizing isn't just about technique! You wouldn't believe what can stop you from equalizing sometimes
ever since your open water diver course, you seem to have more problems equalizing than your fellow dive buddy's? Have to descent REALLY slow? Starting to think your not built for scuba diving? Wait! Read my Top 10 Equalizing Tips and try again! there's hope!
Quickly first let's review some basic dive physiology
. Your middle ears are dead air spaces, connected to the outer world by the eustachian tubes running to the back of your throat. When you fail to increase the pressure in your middle ears to match the building pressure around you, the result is pain and potential damage to the delicate mechanisms of the ear. But you knew that already.
Start early before pressure builds
"Prepressurizing" at the surface helps most divers get past the critical first few feet of descent. It may also inflate your eustachian tubes so they are slightly bigger. Not all medical authorities recommend this, however. The lesson here is to pre-pressurize only if it seems to help you, and to pressurize gently. Chewing gum seems to help because it makes you swallow often.
Descend feet first & Look up.
Studies have shown a Valsalva Maneuver requires 50 percent more force when you're in a head-down position than head-up.
By looking up as your descending you are opening your eustachian tubes by extending your neck.
Avoid unnecessary pressure from Dive Buddies
If you know already you have troubles equalising and need to go slowly, tell your dive buddy ahead of the dive. you will find most divers will help by descending slowly with you, maybe even letting you lead the descent, eliminating that rush to keep up and allowing time to equalize correctly
Descent down a line.
Pulling yourself down an mooring line or anchor rope gives you control over your descent rate more accurately. A line also helps you stop your descent quickly if you feel pressure.
Stay ahead of it
Equalize often, trying to maintain a slight positive pressure in your middle ears. Don't wait until you feel pressure or pain. you cant really over equalise so keep doing it all the way through the first 5m (15ft) where the biggest pressure changes occur.
Stop before it hurts.
If you pass the point of mild discomfort and begin to feel it hurt, your eustachian tubes are probably locked shut by pressure differential. Ascend a few feet until you feel complete relief, and try equalizing again.
Exhale through your nose
Blowing out your nose helps in two ways; Keeping your mask clear. Water up your nose can irritate your mucus membranes, which then produce more of the stuff that clogs. and by simply 'blowing your nose' you may find a 'little green jelly fish' so to speak, pops out the bottom of your mask which then allows you to equalise.
Some foods, including milk, can increase your mucus production which lead to difficulty equalizing! who'd of thunk it!?
Avoid tobacco and alcohol.
I know no divers would be consuming alcohol before a dive but just so you know, both tobacco smoke and alcohol irritate your mucus membranes, promoting more mucus that can block your eustachian tubes.
Learn more techniques
The pinch and blow 'Valsalva Maneuver' may not work if the tubes are already locked by a pressure, and it's all too easy to blow hard enough to damage something. Divers who experience difficulty equalizing may find it helpful to master some alternative techniques.
Alternative Equalizing Techniques
Toynbee Maneuver. With your nostrils pinched or blocked against your mask skirt, swallow. Swallowing pulls open your eustachian tubes while the movement of your tongue, with your nose closed, compresses air against them.
Lowry Technique. A combination of Valsalva and Toynbee: while closing your nostrils, blow and swallow at the same time.
Edmonds Technique. While tensing the soft palate and throat muscles and pushing the jaw forward and down, do a Valsalva Maneuver.
Frenzel Maneuver. Close your nostrils, and close the back of your throat as if straining to lift a weight. Then make the sound of the letter "K." This forces the back of your tongue upwards, compressing air against the openings of your eustachian tubes.
Ultimately the key to safe equalizing is opening the normally closed eustachian tubes to allow that higher-pressure air from your throat to enter your middle ears. Most divers are taught to equalize by only pinching their nose and blowing gently, aka Valsalva Maneuver.
This technique in effect, essentially forces the tubes open with air pressure.
The better way to equalise is to use the throat muscles to pull your eustachian tubes open the way nature intended--by swallowing. You already do this hundreds of times a day--just listen for that faint "pop" you hear about every other gulp. The rapid pressure changes of scuba diving, however, are more challenging. You may need to help this process along by combining it with these Top 10 Equalizing Tips. Good luck and happy diving
Do you Have Trouble Equalizing?
Do You Have Any Other Special Techniques To Share?
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