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  • Writer's pictureCuddlefish Divers

Stay Safe Underwater: Mastering Ear Equalization Techniques

Pressure equalization protects against a condition known as “squeeze”, the uneven application of pressure. Squeeze is always uncomfortable and, unless dealt with promptly, can lead to tissue damage. 

The Importance of Ear Equalization

Without proper equalization, the pressure difference can lead to discomfort, pain, and injury. Effective equalization allows divers to explore deeper depths confidently.

Equalization Techniques

Swallowing: Swallowing is a natural way to equalize pressure in the middle ear because it opens the Eustachian tubes, allowing air to flow from your throat to your ears.

Rotating the jaw: Jaw movements can also help open the Eustachian tubes, facilitating pressure equalization. Open your mouth wide and then close it, like you’re yawning. Move your jaw from side to side or in circular motions. Rotate your jaw while swallowing to enhance the effect.

Valsalva Maneuver: This basic technique involves pinching your nose shut and gently blowing through your nose. The increase in pressure helps open the Eustachian tubes, equalizing the pressure in your middle ears.

Tips: Do not blow too hard or try to force air out. The Valsalva technique should be used very carefully with practice only after swallowing and jaw rotating do not work.

Tips for Effective Equalization

Preparation is Key: Before diving, gently practice equalization techniques on land. This primes your Eustachian tubes and helps you identify the most effective methods for your body.

Regular Practice: Consistent practice of equalization techniques is essential. Regular practice helps in muscle memory and ensures you can perform them effortlessly while diving.

Stay Relaxed: Tension can make equalization more difficult. Maintain a calm and relaxed state to allow for smoother equalization. Anxiety and stress can tighten the muscles, making the process harder.

Proper Positioning: Keep your head in a neutral position or slightly tilted upwards while descending. This helps keep the Eustachian tubes open. Experiment with different head positions to find what works best for you.

Rules for Equalization

#1 Breathe Continuously and Never Hold Your Breath! This ensures proper equalization of your lungs on descents and ascents. 

#2 Never Wait for Pain to Begin Before Equalizing! On descent, immediately begin to equalize, relax and equalize often throughout your descent. If possible, descend feet first in an upright position or by using a descent line. 

#3 Never Dive With a Cold or Congestion. Mucus blocks the Eustachian tube, making equalization very difficult.

#4 Never Dive With Earplugs! 

Safety Considerations

If pain develops, stop your descent using your fins or lines; ascend until the pain stops. Try equalizing again. If the pain persists do not dive. If you feel pain on the ascent, immediately stop and then slowly continue your ascent. 

Ensure your gear, especially your mask and fins, fits well and is in good condition. Poorly fitting equipment can complicate equalization and increase the risk of discomfort or injury.

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