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EQUALIZING- No its not a math problem!!!
Divingleo - 10/08/2013 3:19 AM
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Category: Educational
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1) The symptoms:

You feel pain in your ear’s while descending(going down).After you have returned to the surface your ears feel "full" and your hearing is muffled.You may even experience "VERTIGO" whisch is dizziness and the feeling that your whole world is spinning.

2) What causes this??:

Your middle ears are air chambers that are normally equlized to the outside air pressure through your Eustacian Tubes, and they’ve become filled with your bodily fluids.And that’s why your ear’s feel FULL! The fluid inside works like a muffler , and muffles the sound transmissions from your eardrum to your inner ear and may even affect your adjacent semicircular canals, and these guys are your balance mechanism.

3) Is this a serious matter??:

Not usually as fluid usually drains away or is reabsorbed by your body with no lasting damage, but it can be VERY SERIOUS when diving.If you continue to descend deeper depspite the pain you’re feeling you can very well rupture an eardrum or even the membranes that lay between your middle and inner ears.And especially if one ear is more affected than the other ear, you can experience vertigo, which can be DEADLY UNDERWATER!!

4) What causes it you ask:

Basically your eustachian tubes are blocked so air can’t pass from your throat to your middle ear.As you descend the increasing water pressure makes your eardrums bulge inwards,(this is what causes you the pain!!). Soon the pressure that is exerted forces blood and peri-lymphatic fluids from the surrounding tissues into your middle ear spaces.Your ear drums go back into their normal position and the pain goes away and you think that"Oh good, I’ve finally equalized". Bzzzt!! Wrong answer!! You have in a way but with FLUID!!

5) What blocked your tubes is most likely your next question:

It could be too much mucas because your nasal passages are irritated by a cold,using too much nose spray(rebound congestion), or by equalizing much too forcefully on your previous dive.OR you could have pinched your eustachian tubes closed because of poor equalizing technique! Don’t go blaming yourself here as we’ve all done it at one time or another!!Pinching your nose and blowing gently (the Modified Valsalva technique) will force air up into the tubes sure, but blowing too HARD will CLOSE the ends of your tubes.!

6)How to Prevent this from happening:

1) I can’t stress this enough: "DON’T DIVE WITH A COLD!!".

Increased mucas production may make clearing impossible.Even if you breathe cold air for a long period of time this increases the production of mucas, what us "banana belt" divers of Canada know all too well! :)

2) Don’t overuse nose sprays or drops as they will actually increase your mucas production over time.

3) Don’t use a forceful valsalva:

Instead use a technique that is taught more frequently in Canada than our dive bretheren in the USA and tropical climes. This is called a FRENZL manuver:(with your mouth, nose, and throat closed, use your tongue like a piston,driving the mass of your tongue backwards).Or even the Toynbee manuever(swallowing with nose pinched and mouth closed)

4) Descend feet down and head up!!

5) Pre-pressurize your ears. Start your equalization before you leave the surface, some instructors and pro’s even start at home.(ME) :P Once you’re 4-6 feet down it’s too late to start.

6) Descend slowly. Equalize with every breath and every 2 feet.

I hope this has helped you understand the importance of equalization better and remember you can always thumb the dive if you are uncomfortable!! There is no shame in that!!



xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxThis comment was added by a fellow PSDiver after reading this article in a PSDMonthly:


Tom, Great article. May I reprint it for my students? Pete PADI OWSI 185950 Owner DiveTrainers