There is nothing more frustrating than completing your final checks, jumping in the water, starting your decent and equalizing, but nothing happens. Some divers will try again and again with no results, some will push through, resulting in pain and damage to the inner structures of the ear, and some will finish their dive there and then.
It’s all too common for divers to experience problems equalizing, so common in fact that approximately 89% of divers will suffer with these issues at some point throughout their diving career. It’s surprizing that 29% of divers have to sit out of the water for days, weeks or even months due to problems caused by equalizing incorrectly and that 6.3% of divers suffer with irreparable damage.
The technique we all know and use regularly is the ‘Valsalva Maneuver’, where we pinch the nostrils and blow out through the nose. This technique causes a build up of pressure at the back of the throat, forcing the air up into the Eustachian tubes, clearing them, which is signalled by a loud ‘popping’ sound within the ears. For some, it works well, but for others it can cause more damage than good.
This technique has 3 main issues:
- This technique does not relax the muscles, which open the Eustachian tubes; it forces the air upwards, meaning that it may not work if there is already a pressure difference.
- It’s extremely easy to blow too hard and cause damage.
- Blowing against a blocked nose can raise the internal fluid pressure, including that of the inner ear and can cause damage to the tiny structures within.
Have no fear! The team at divein.com have created an incredible infographic explaining exactly why the technique that we all use, can be dangerous if done incorrectly. They’ve also listed other easier, safer and more effective ways to equalize, which means you’ll never have to sit out another dive again.