Ear Equalization by Melissa Rodriguez

Why it is Important

One of the most important things is to equalize early and often. The opening of the Eustachian tube in your ear is very sensitive to pressure. The effects of pressure can be felt in as little as three feet of water. If you don't equalize properly, you risk an ear injury, which can prevent you from diving until the injury is fully healed.
As you descend into the water, the air inside your ear is compressed and its pressure reduced. The water on the outside of your ear increases in pressure causing a squeeze. You must equalize to bring the two pressures into balance. If you do not equalize properly, the pressure inside your ear could rupture your eardrum. A reverse squeeze is the opposite of a squeeze. It happens upon ascent. The reverse squeeze occurs when the air inside the ear expands, but cannot escape.

This usually happens to divers who have nasal congestion. A reverse squeeze can also cause severe damage to your ears.
Most divers use the Valsalva maneuver to equalize. This maneuver involves blowing gently against a pinched nose. Another similar method is the Frenzel maneuver. This technique involves pinching the nose and swallowing. There are several other methods. It is the diver's personal preference as to which method to use.

Tips to help your equalizing techniques:

1. Equalize immediately upon descent and continue to equalize often.

2. Don't wait until you feel discomfort or pain before equalizing.

3. If difficulty occurs in equalizing, ascend a few feet and try again. If you still can't equalize after a few attempts, do not continue the dive.

4. Try to control your descent and maintain a feet down position.

5. Do not blow forcefully while doing a Valsalva maneuver. You could rupture your eardrum.