If you have problems equalizing, here are some ear scuba diving tips for you to try. As we all know, if you can’t clear those ears, there won’t be any diving. Equalizing problems are not all that uncommon and there are some things you can do to help you make a safe descent.
The most common method of clearing your ears is called the Valsalva maneuver. To perform this, you close your mouth, pinch your nostrils closed and gently blow through your nose.
Before you even go under the water, start your equalization method. If you are using the Valsalva maneuver, gently blow through your nose while you are waiting to start your descent. This “pre-pressurizes” the ear and makes equalization easier upon descent.
Descend Feet First
If you are descend with your head first, it affects the Eustachian tube and makes it harder to equalize your ears.
Equalize Early and Often
This should be familiar from your scuba diving certification class. Begin equalizing as soon as your head goes underwater and continue equalizing every few feet. This is probably the most important step to descending without ear problems. If you are having problems clearing one ear, tilt your head – with the blocked ear toward the surface. More ear scuba diving tips:
Ascend if Not Clearing
If your ears are not clearing properly, ascend a few feet to reduce the pressure. Try clearing them again. If it still doesn’t work, ascend a few more feet and try again. Rinse and repeat until you have cleared your ears successfully.
Ear scuba diving tips continued:
Do Not Force It
If you have tried ascending and it is not working, abort the dive. If you force yourself down, you can cause permanent ear injury. In this same vein, if you are using the Valsalva method, do not blow forcefully. It should be a gentle blow. A forceful blow can also cause ear injury. It’s better to forego a dive than have ear problems for the rest of your life. Probably the most important ear scuba diving tip to remember.
Do Not Dive With a Cold
Another mantra you probably heard in your scuba diving certification class. Congestion can make equalization difficult. And even if you are able to descend, you run the risk of having problems during ascent, a condition called “reverse squeeze.” This can also be caused by medications wearing off during the dive.
I know many divers take cold medicine and dive anyway. Just be aware of the risks if you take this route.
I haven’t gone into the more technical/medical aspects of ear pressure. You can find plenty of information online. One good resource which goes into depth is by the University of Washington and can be found here.
A great video presentation on clearing your ears during scuba diving is given by Dr. Edmond Kay from the University of Washington. It has everything (and more) you wanted to know about ear problems. It is definitely worth a look if you are having trouble. Be warned, though, it is long – just under an hour. You can find it here.
There are several other techniques besides the valsalva to equalize ear pressure, a discussion of which can be found in the article and video cited above. Practice them to see which one works best for you.
Hopefully these ear scuba diving tips will make your dive more comfortable. Just remember to take it easy and take it slow. You should be able to get down there safely.