How to equalize or clear your ears when diving?
What if you could prevent equalizing issues and never miss a dive again?
89% of divers do not equalize correctly, and 29% of divers have had to stay out of the water for days, weeks or even months, due to problems caused by not equalizing correctly. It’s hard to think that you could be part of the 6.3% of divers who now have permanent ear damage caused by pushing too hard and trying to force their ears to clear. This is something that should be taught in your open water class or even a Discover Scuba and swimming and snorkeling classes as well. It is the most common reason why adults and kids do not continue to dive or complete their courses or dive after their course.
As long as you have no physical reason you can’t equalize and have been advised by a doctor this is not an activity you can partake in, then let’s make equalizing problems a thing of the past.
As beginner divers, we are taught to pinch your nostrils and blow against a blocked nose. This technique results in overpressure in the back of your throat that forces the air up into the Eustachian tubes, creating a ‘popping’ sound inside your ears. This works for many divers, but for others, it does not work or can cause damage to the ear, nosebleeds, or headaches.
This technique does not actively engage the muscles in opening the Eustachian tubes. If you do use this technique, make sure that you do not maintain pressure for longer than 3 seconds and that you do not blow too hard. Remember to ascend slowly releasing the pressure if you feel pain and before you blow.
There are 5 better, safer and healthier ways to equalize, these include:
- Toynbee Maneuver: Pinch your nose and swallow at the same time.
- Lowry Technique: Pinch your nose, blow against your nose and swallow at the same time.
- Edmonds Technique: Pinch your nose, blow against it while moving your jaw forward and downwards.
- Frenzel Maneuver: Pinch your nose and make the sound of the letter ‘K’ at the same time.
- Voluntary Tubal Opening Technique: Tense your throat and push your jaw forwards and downwards.
These five techniques and maneuvers will change the way you dive for the rest of your diving life.
If you would like to learn more about equalizing and the potential issues you face if you don’t equalize correctly as well as new and safer ways to clear your ears on a dive, then take a look at my number 1 resource for dive medicine and advice. DAN Ears