How To Equalize Pressure While Diving

Divers keep their ears from popping while diving by using a technique called equalization. Equalization is the process of equalizing the pressure in the middle ear with the pressure outside the ear. This is done by using the muscles in the throat to open the Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to the back of the nose.

Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctors frequently recommend decongestants, including a nasal spray 30 minutes before diving, for people who are allergic or have mild congestion. It is possible to protect your ears prior to and after diving with an over-the-counter product. Diving should be practiced at an angle to your breathing, slowly clearing your mask and ears and keeping your airways clear. It is a type of diving injury to the middle ear. If fluids are not properly equalized, they may enter the space under pressure. During diving and snorkeling, earplugs that have been conditioned to keep water out of your ears are frequently used. To reduce congestion, wear a hat when diving in windy or cold weather.

You must keep the pressure inside your body constant with that of the surrounding water. If you have been subjected to pressure or forced equalization, you may experience barotrauma, so ensure that your ears and mask are evenly protected. If water enters your ear, you may experience temporary relief from your squeeze due to the perforation of your eardrum. The chances of diving-related inner ear problems are slim, but they can be severe and permanently damaging.

People scuba dive much deeper than swimming pools, so their ears are not injured when they do so. The best solution is to apply air to the inside of your ear, as this will reduce the pressure on the outside. Equalization is the process of putting all the pieces together.

The easiest way to do this is to pull your ears up, look up, pinch your nose, and blow as if blowing your nose. It is a good idea to repeat the move several times, especially during landing to equalize your middle ear. Your pilot is not advised to sleep during takeoff or landing.

For many new scuba divers, water can linger in their ears for hours after their confined sessions or first ocean dives. They are frequently to blame for this because they spend a lot of time trying to fit their ears together. It is possible that this causes inflammation of the ear drum and canal or eustachian tube swelling.

How Do Divers Protect Their Ears?


If you have sensitive ears, you should wear a hood and / or some type of diver’s balm before each dive to help protect them. Adding a little sweet almond oil to your diet will also help. When we can’t clear our ears, we stop diving; if we can, swallowing or soft Valsalva is the way to go.

Diving Tips for the Social Diver – 12 Ways to Care for Your Ear Despite the fact that ear pain is a common issue for divers, taking the proper precautions can prevent it entirely. Amputations can result in barotraumas, which can prevent you from diving for an extended period of time. It is impossible to be certain that these plugs work the way they are designed. These devices should not be used as diving equipment because DAN does not have enough data on their proper operation. When done correctly, they work well in water. If you have had infection in your ear canal on a regular basis, you may want to put on a hood before diving again. The first step is to go down with your feet; this is a simple fix for anyone who frequently suffers from equalizing problems.

The sides of this mask are covered to keep water out, and a small vent above the strap allows water to be evenly dispersed. Chlorinated water and salt may cause ear stress, resulting in unwanted side effects. Chlorine and salt, in addition to drying out the skin, cause itchiness and tiny scratches in the ear canal. You may also be scratching your ears as a result of poor ear cleaning or drying. After every dive, completely dry your ears with a headband made of a material known as neoprene. After diving, it is best to use a hair dryer to dry your ears. When using scuba diving ear drops for ear care, it is not recommended to exceed the amount.

There are two common types of trees. It comes from the Solution Branse-Passek. I do not recommend using them after every dive and only after the last dive of the day. It ensures that the ears are completely clean and dry overnight, without stressing the skin too much. You can always try a different solution if you feel worse after using them, and you can always stop using them if you don’t feel better after using them at all.

It is critical that divers wear earplugs that allow them to let go of their ear pressure and hear sounds. These earplugs have been used by scuba divers for over thirty years, and they are the best choice for divers.

The Dangers Of Wearing Ear Plugs While Diving

Diver ears are not required to be protected while scuba diving. Ear plugs, in addition to being dangerous, can prevent the diver from achieving the proper ear pressure, which can reduce ear pain and injuries. It is common for divers to pinch their nose and blow gently to equalize their ears. This gentle pressure opens the eustachian tube and allows air to flow more freely into the middle ear. When the plugs are lowered, water will be able to reach the ear for equalization. Our earplugs, unlike those of other manufacturers, have a Scott’s valve, which allows your ears to easily equalize and allow sound to enter. Our proplugs have been used by hundreds of divers for more than 30 years, and they are 100% satisfied with them.

Why Can’t I Equalise My Ears When Diving?

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To ensure safe equalization, open the eustachian tube, which normally closes, to allow air to pass freely from the throat to the ears. Equalizing is usually accomplished by pinching a person’s nose and blowing gently. With gentle pressure, the eustachian tube opens and air flows gently into the middle ear.

Every diver must equalize ear pressure at the start of any dive. For this maneuver, you’ll need to pinch your nostrils and blow through your nose. If you do not equalize your ears early or frequently enough, the pressure differential can cause the soft tissues to become entrapped, resulting in the tubes closing. As long as you breathe in these soft tissues, they become sealed shut. Divers who want to keep their Eustachian tubes open for continuous equalization can learn how to do so. Equalizing every two feet (.6 meters) of descent is recommended, but it is often too late. You must pressurize on the surface to reach the critical tipping point.

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Your Eustachian tubes tend to open more easily when you extend your neck. When you pull yourself down an anchor or mooring line, you can increase your descent rate. Keeping your middle ears as much as possible under positive pressure is the best way to achieve this. Climbing a few feet after the first attempt may help your ears heal.

The Dangers Of Deep Diving

If you dive too deep, your Eustachian tubes will be “locked” into the high-pressure differential, rendering proper equalization impossible. If your ears hurt while you try to equalize them, take a few steps upward to equalize again.
When your ears are unable to pop underwater, you can try one of the few ways to equalize air spaces: rotating your jaw and moving your head from side to side can help. If you’re still having trouble equalizing, it may be time to try again in the future.

Can I Wear Earplugs While Diving?


It is generally safe to dive with standard solid earplugs because they create an air space that cannot be equalized, making them difficult to equalize while diving; however, some divers use earplugs when they are not required.

Earaches are the most common reason why people stop scuba diving. Ear plugs can help resolve ear infections and other ear issues. A standard pair of earplugs will prevent you from properly aligning your ear while diving. If you have an earplug plugged in, it is likely to cause discomfort in addition to ear damage. The earplugs have been designed to be worn during scuba diving without causing any harm. The device differs from standard models in that it has a small valve that allows air and water to enter and exit the ear canal. There are several types of plugs that are popular, widely available, and have been proven to work by many people.

If a plug valve becomes blocked during your descent, you must remove it to continue your dive. It is always a good idea to descend to ensure that the plugs are working properly. Plugs allow sound to pass through, but they will not allow you to hear as well as you can if they are not used. When you are suffering from ear or sinus pain, do not force equalization or descend. Because there are numerous methods available, you should experiment to see which one is the best for you. As you ascend and the surrounding pressure decreases, the air within your inner ear will expand and need to be extracted. It is not uncommon for reverse-blocks on the ascent to occur because air in the ears and sinuses becomes trapped. The use of earplugs with vent openings can help divers who have ear infections or difficulty equalizing. After diving into fresh water, rinse your ear canal with fresh water.

Wearing earplugs while diving is a good idea, but you should take precautions to ensure your safety. In the first place, you should never dive while wearing earplugs unless the pressure in your ears is at least equal. It can occur at depths of up to 10-15 meters due to the rupture of the eardrum. Furthermore, make sure the seals on your earplugs are properly fastened before diving because water can enter your ear canal if they are not. You should also see a doctor as soon as possible if you experience any discomfort or hearing loss while wearing earplugs.

Why Do My Ears Keep Popping After Diving?

Middle-ear barotrauma (ear squeeze) is the most common type of injury sustained during diving. It is caused when there is insufficient pressure in the air space of the middle ear to meet ambient pressure. The ruptured eardrum can occur while diving or flying, depending on the circumstances.

While scuba diving last weekend, my ears had a problem clearing. After finishing the dive, I felt my ears were blocked (not by water), so I was forced to pop them. I’ve had it for five days now and it hasn’t popped, so it’s annoying that I can’t hear anything out of it. I’m not sure what blowing up a balloon in your mouth will do for ear fluid, but I do give it to kids with ear fluid. If you’ve only done a valsalva and blowing out, you can try pinching your nose and sucking in. If your sinuses are blocked, your ear can become bowed out as you climb.

If the fluid in the Eustachian tube is not flowing, you may have a blockage. It connects the middle ear and the throat through a tube. It may go away on its own if it is very small. Even if the blockage is small, you may need to surgically remove it if it becomes large.

How Long Does It Take For Ears To Clear After Scuba Diving?

Water must drain from your ear naturally within two to three days. If the water is still longer than this, you should consult a doctor.

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If the water does not go away or if you have a fever, pain, or other symptoms of infection, you should see a doctor right away.

How Long Does It Take For Ear Barotrauma To Heal?

It is usually resolved when the underlying cause of barotrauma is determined to be allergies or respiratory infections. In mild to moderate cases, it takes up to two weeks for the patient to fully recover. After surgery for a severe case, it can take up to a year for the patient to fully recover.

See A Doctor If You Experience Ear Barotrauma

If you notice any of these symptoms or signs, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. A severe ear injury may necessitate medical attention and should be considered a sign of a more serious medical issue.

Does Ear Barotrauma Go Away?

If you have ear barotrauma, you will most likely not require any treatment. Some injuries require lengthy healing processes, but symptoms usually disappear with time. If you sustain an injury to your eardrum, it is not usually healed. If you have been traumatized in your ear, you may require medication.

Scuba Diving With Ear Problems

If you have ear problems, scuba diving can be uncomfortable and even painful. The pressure changes can cause pain in the ears, and if you have an infection, it can make it worse. If you have a cold or sinus infection, you should not go scuba diving.

Dangers Of Diving With Ear Pain

If you have mild to moderate pain but no longer feel it, you can resume descending; however, you should be aware that if your ear pressure rises excessively, you are at risk of developing acute ear barotrauma. It is best to stop the dive and return to the surface if the pain persists or becomes more severe after attempting to equalise. You may have some concerns about diving; if so, consult with a physician first.

How To Equalize Ear Pressure Diving

There are a few different ways that you can equalize the pressure in your ears when diving. One way is to use the Valsalva maneuver, which is done by pinching your nose shut and blowing gently. This will help to open up the Eustachian tubes and allow the pressure to equalize. Another way to equalize the pressure is to do the Toynbee maneuver, which is done by swallowing while pinching your nose shut. This will also help to open up the Eustachian tubes and allow the pressure to equalize.

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Most divers are taught to equalize by pinching their nose and blowing gently. The eustachian tubes must be opened to allow air to pass from the throat to the ears during equalizing. It has been demonstrated that when you’re in feet up rather than down, you require more force. For freedivers, opening your eustachian tubes slightly up is not recommended. To aid in the control of your descent rate, use an anchor or mooring line. You should stop diving if you are unable to equalize your ears. It is painful for those who continue to descend with un unequalized ears.

What Happens If You Don’t Equalize When Diving?

However, if the differential is not equalized early or often enough, the soft tissues will be forced together, resulting in the tube’s end closing. These soft tissues are sealed shut by pressing air against them. Because there is no air flow to the middle ear, there is no symmetry in the air flow to the ear.

What Happens If You Equalize Too Hard?

Equalizing problems can be found in a variety of ways. When the outside pressure is too high, the Eustachian cushions are locked shut and will not open; this results in a lack of air to open the Eustachian cushions. Instead, if you blow too hard, you can damage the inner ear tissues.

Why Can’t I Equalize My Ears When Diving?

If you’re too deep, your Eustachian tubes will become “locked” by the high-pressure differential, making it impossible to achieve proper equalization. When you’re attempting to equalize your ears, the best thing to do is to ascend a few feet and try again.

Can Equalizing Damage Your Ears?

If you blow vigorously against pinched nostrils when equalizing, the round window membrane between your middle and inner ears may be ruptured. Barotrauma, in general, refers to an injury to the inner ear. Perilymph fluid drains into the middle ear as it exits the cochlea. Hearing loss may result in temporary or permanent impairment.

How To Prevent Ear Squeeze

There are a few ways to prevent ear squeeze. One way is to dive within the limits of your personal experience and comfort level. Another way to prevent ear squeeze is to use a nose clip or equalization device.

Ear pressure refers to the sensation of fullness or stuffiness in the ear. When the eustachian tube becomes blocked or fails to function properly, it is referred to as an intermittent episode. Middle ear infections are common in addition to ear infections caused by certain ear infections. Pressure inside the inner ear can change as a result of changes in altitude and pressure. Waxing your ear canal is necessary to keep it clean, protected, and lubricated. Earwax, on the other hand, can cause an obstruction in the eardrum. There are a few symptoms that can occur when foreign objects are stuck in the ear.

Meniere’s disease can cause dizziness, as well as a feeling of disorientation. Acholesteatoma is caused by a lack of ventilation in the middle ear. Temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are the hinge points that connect the skull’s sides to the jaw’s lower jaw. Even if the TMJ does not sustain any damage, there can be significant pain. Sinus congestion, infections, and TMJ disorders can all cause ear pressure. A doctor will assist you in determining the source of the symptoms and administering appropriate treatments.

What Causes Middle Ear Squeeze?

As the air passes through the eustachian tube, its pressure in the middle ear remains constant in comparison to that of the outside world. When the eustachian tube fails, there is an audible difference between the pressure levels of the two eardrums, causing pain or ear squeeze.

How To Stretch Your Ear Muscles For Neck And Shoulder Relief

You can alleviate neck and shoulder pain by stretching the muscles in your ear. This simple technique can help you relax and get better at what you do.

Why Do My Ears Keep Pressurizing?

Chronic sinus congestion, infections, and TMJ damage can all contribute to ear pressure. This can also be caused by situational factors such as the altitude change or the presence of a foreign body in the ear. OTC medications and home remedies are sometimes used to treat ear pressure that is not caused by an underlying condition.

If You Think You Might Have An Ear Infection, See Your Docto

If you suspect you have an ear infection, consult with your doctor. Ear infections, in general, are not difficult to treat with antibiotics. If you have persistent ear pressure, ear pain, or fluid drainage, you should see a doctor for an ear infection.

How Long Does Ear Squeeze Last?

After three to four weeks of receiving treatment, the membrane usually heals without serious complications.

How To Safely Pop Your Ears

It is critical to remember that there are a few things to consider before popping your ears. Make sure your ears are clean as well. If the Eustachian tube is blocked by ear wax, you should clean it out before popping it.
Your Eustachian tube should be open. To accomplish this, gently press the two sides of your nose together.
It is critical to be gentle. You may experience some pain if you pop your ears, so do not overdo it.
It is critical to take simple precautions after popping your ears to avoid future issues. Make certain that your ears are kept clean and open, as well as that they do not overpop. This simple procedure can help your ears stay healthy while also being safe and painless.

How to Equalize When Scuba Diving

It also exposes our bodies to new physiological changes that can seem strange to us, and sometimes cause a bit of worry.

Equalizing the “dead air spaces” in your body is one of the first skills you learn on the PADI Open Water Course. It is a skill that needs to be mastered before moving forward.

One air space that can cause issues, for new and experienced divers alike, is the air space within our ears. So, let’s go back to the basics- read on for an easy to follow guide.

Table of Contents

Why Do We Need to Equalize Our Ears?

In Scuba diving, we speak about equalization. Without going too deep into the physics, it simply means the need to equalize pressure between the inside of your ears and the surrounding environment – the underwater one.

We are not well adapted to the underwater environment, so our ears often struggle to maintain a balance pressure as we descend. As we go deeper, the pressure keeps on increasing, with the biggest change in pressure occurring in the first 10 metres. The only way to compensate is to push the Eustachian tube – a tunnel that connects the middle ear space to the back of the nose – outwards.

What Happens if We Don’t Equalize?

If we can’t equalize as we slowly descend, the increased pressure pushing on the eardrum causes pain inside the ear.

If we fail to stop or slow down our descent, it could lead to a Tympanic Membrane Rupture, or what is commonly known as a perforated eardrum. This is why it is extremely important to practice equalizing with your instructor in a shallow, confined environment.

How to Equalize in Diving

If you have been on an aeroplane before, you will be familiar with the feeling of an increase of pressure in the surrounding environment. We experience a similar feeling when we begin to descend.

Early and often is a great rule to remember. There are a few methods that divers use to equalize including the commonly taught “Valsalva” method. The Valsava method is an exhalation against a closed airway – simply pinching your nose and gently blowing into it. The key word here is gentle. Blowing too forcefully can lead to barotrauma.

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One way I teach my students is to pinch their nose and swallow. Swallowing encourages the muscles of the throat to open to tubes – a much more physiologically natural way to achieve equalization. This is called the Toynbee Manoeuvre; swallowing pulls open the Eustachian tubes and the movement of your tongue, with your nose closed compresses air against them. Experienced divers can reach the point where all they have to do is swallow to equalize.

There is no doubt that it is strange sensation, and often causes new divers to become anxious. Your instructor will ensure you are happy with the methods at the surface before taking you into the water to practice them.

2 Ways to Equalize Ear Pressure While Scuba Diving

Equalizing ear pressure while scuba diving is a task every diver must master. To function properly the pressure on the outer ear which is exposed to the environment should be equal to the pressure in the airspace of the middle ear.

The normally closed Eustachian tubes provides a passage way for air from the throat to the middle ear airspace.

Hundreds of times a day, our body will automatically open the Eustachian tubes allowing the two spaces to equalize.

eustachian tube

There are times, such as when scuba diving or flying in an airplane, when there is a rapid change in pressure and the natural process does not happen fast enough.

The difference in pressures can cause the natural methods to fail. When this occurs we will experience pain in the ears and if it is not corrected, may lead to a ruptured ear drum.

A number of methods that can be used to for equalizing ear pressure while scuba diving. The two most common ways to clear while diving are the Valsalva Maneuver which is a blowing method and the Frenzel Maneuver which involves the tongue.

Other similar methods use swallowing or jaw movements.

Equalizing Ear Pressure While Scuba Diving Using The Valsalva Maneuver

scuba diver equalizing his ears

The Valsalva Maneuver seems to be the one that every scuba diver is taught how to do. It may not be the best and it may present some troubles but it is the easiest for most people. You simply pinch your nostrils close and exhale or blow out through your nose.

This results in a build up of pressure in your throat that will open the Eustachian tubes. The open tubes will allow the pressure of the middle ear to match that of the outer ear.

The medical community warns that if you use too much pressure when you blow out, you could over pressurize the middle ear airspace causing some damage.

Another concern is that the pressure difference could have the wrong impact by forcing the soft tissue to firmly close instead of opening.

Using The Frenzel Maneuver

The Frenzel maneuver was developed prior to WWII by the German ENT doctor, Hermann Frenzel, for pilots of dive bombers.

It allowed them to rapidly and repeatedly clear their ears during a steep dive. You basically close the airways going to the larynx and lungs, then using your tongue, throat and facial muscles to compress the air in those spaces.

This compressed air opens the Eustachian tubes. This method is much safer and requires less effort than the Valsalva Maneuver.

It does take more effort to learn how to do it.

Today, it is the favorite method of many freedivers as it uses very little air and is easy to repeat if needed.

These are the basic steps to complete this maneuver. You may need more details and practice before you can fully do this task.

  • Have your mouth full of air without overextending your cheeks
  • Block the escape through your nose by pinching the nostrils. Please note if you are practicing this on land, do not fully close the nose.
  • Seal off the lungs
  • Use the tongue to block the mouth exit.
  • Tighten the cheeks while repeatedly moving the tongue upwards and backwards.
  • This will increase the pressure in the mouth and throat and cause the Eustachian tubes to open.

Here are a few things you need to explore and practice before you can do this.

  • Practice breathing only from your nose and only from your mouth and learn the position of your tongue for each. You may find that when breathing using the nose only, the tongue is in a position similar to when you make the sound “t”.
  • Learn to control your epiglottis. It might take some practice, but it is the same thing you do when you are gargling with mouthwash. You do not swallow the mouthwash and it does not go into your lungs.

Backup Methods to Equalizing Ear Pressure While Scuba Diving.

diver in malaysia

While the Valsalva Maneuver and the Frenzel Maneuver are the most commonly used there are similar methods that are also used. It is good to know other methods to use if your primary choice just does not seem to be working.

  • Toynbee Maneuver: to accomplish this you just pinch your nose closed and swallow. Swallowing is the most common method your body automatically uses. There is no risk of over-pressuring the middle ear with this method and it does not require any skills to learn. Many divers are able to equalize just by swallowing, This is helpful when your hands are busy with other task like photography.
  • Voluntary Tubal Opening. This is another hand free method that mimics what the body does automatically. You tense your throat and push the jaw forward and down. Much like a yawn.
  • Edmonds Technique. This is a combination of the Tubal Opening and the Valsalva Maneuver. You position your jaw while doing the Valsalva Maneuver.
  • Lowry Technique. This is another combination with the Valsalva Maneuver. This time with the Toynbee Maneuver.

Tips for Better Equalizing Your Ear Pressure

scuba diver equalizing

Some people are able to equalize better than others. There are many things that can impact your ability to equalize, and they may not be apparent.

You may be fine on one dive and have difficulties the next. If you are unable to equalize do not ignore it nor force it. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • In the time leading up to your dive, equalize often. Swallow or use the Voluntary Tubal Opening method to loosen up the muscles around the tubes.
  • During your decent, equalize often and before you need to. The greater the pressure differences between the outer and middle ear the harder it will be to equalize. Frequent gentle equalization is best.
  • If you are having difficulties equalizing, stop your descent until you are able to do it. If you are still having difficulties ascend a few feet to lessen the pressure and try again.
  • It is easier to equalize in a feet down position than a head down position.
  • Never dive with a cold or nasal congestion. This will hamper your ability to clear your ears.
  • Do not take decongestants before a dive. They do wear off.
  • Aborting a dive because you can not clear your ears, is the right thing to do. It will happen to every diver at some point.


Every day, our ears are frequently equalizing. We might even notice a pop in the ears now and then.

When we are scuba diving, we might just need to take action before the body does it itself.

If you are a novice diver, practice a few means to keep your ears clear, and remember the tips above. If you have any additional tips, feel free to leave a comment.




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