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  1. #1
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    Ear equalisation help

    Hi all. Im new here and to scuba diving, having just started doing the PADI OW course.

    I'd like to talk about equalising the ears because its the thing Im most worried about. At the moment Im just diving in a 2m pool so don't have the opportunity yet to properly test whether I can equalise at greater depths. I guess the biggest reason Im worried about it is due to lack of experience with it, sometimes problems on planes and childhood issues where I had grommets fitted, but this was around 30 years ago now when I was between about 8 and 12 ish.

    I am well versed with the valsalva from doing weightlifting, and am used to doing this against a closed epiglottis with open mouth also.

    Ive also been practising the frenzel technique.

    The main problem is that Im not sure what 'popping' my ears is really supposed to feel or sound like. How much of a pop is it supposed to be, or is it more like an almost inaudible crackling (sort of like when you stretch your knuckles for example), or is it more like a feeling of pressure or movement inside the head with no sound at all?

    You know when you have a cold and blow your nose, but youre pretty blocked up and you end up really popping your ears big time, so much so that you can hear yourself breathing through your nose? Does anyone get that? It sounds as if youre actually breathing through your ears which I know is impossible. When this happens I can almost feel my ear drum moving in and out as I breathe in and out. Im not sure if its supposed to be that prominent a pop or something much more subtle. Are the tubes stuck open in that situation and thats why I can hear/feel myself breathing in my ear(s)?

    I can always hear a slight crackle if I just swallow, for example if I take a big drink I can kinda feel a crackle inside my ears when I swallow.

    And if I valsalva against closed nostrils I can kinda feel my inner nose pressurise but I don't get a pop feeling and I don't know if Im pushing hard enough to open the tubes, but I daren't push harder just in case.

    I also can 'hear' / 'feel' more of a crackle/pressurisation in my right ear compared to my left. When I have a cold and blow my nose it can be either ear that goes big pop.

    I have an ottovent balloon thing too, which I bought a few years ago when I had a really bad blocked ear problem that lasted weeks. I couldn't hear anyone speaking it was that bad.


    Im not sure how I will tell if my ears have properly popped or not whilst underwater.

    Obviously various concerns with this!

    Thanks
    Last edited by dangerousdan; 16-07-2019 at 10:01 PM.

  2. #2
    Pedantic Pig Divemouse's Avatar
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    Mine tend to go very suddenly, but I don't really hear anything, just a sudden inflation. One goes much more easily than the other too. I generally find that getting them to go in the first couple of m is the uncomfortable bit and it's much easier and more pleasant as you get deeper.
    Definitely don't doubt Dawn - not if you value your life

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    TDF Member OwenF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Divemouse View Post
    Mine tend to go very suddenly, but I don't really hear anything, just a sudden inflation. One goes much more easily than the other too. I generally find that getting them to go in the first couple of m is the uncomfortable bit and it's much easier and more pleasant as you get deeper.
    First couple of metres is not only more comfortable, but essential really.

    If the eustachian tubes are allowed to close down by not equalising over the biggest pressure differential, you'll have a harder job later on

    Sent from my Lenovo P2a42 using Tapatalk

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    Prior Member Tim Digger's Avatar
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    The only other thing I can suggest to get into the habit at this stage is to equalise BEFORE descending. You are right to be concerned but you will eventually learn what equalisation feels like for you. Difficulty in describing this is part of the reason why equalisation may be inadequately taught.
    Evolution is great at solving problems. It's the methods that concern me.
    Tim Digger

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    I’m new to scuba as well, the way I can tell my ears are ready to equalise is that I lose a bit of hearing, everything seems to go muffled, if I leave it too long then I can feel a real squeeze coming on. When I do clear them it feels like somebody has taken cotton wool out of my ears. My instructor also told me to keep my ears level with each other, otherwise one can clear and the other may not and possibly cause balance issues.

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    The biggest problem I have found with new divers is that they wait until they feel the pressure on their ears before trying to equalise. It seems to be more dificult to equalise if there is a significant pressure differential. I always recommend GENTLY equalising the ears as soon as you start descending and this seems to work well for most people. If you can equalise your ears at 2M, I don't see a problem with doing it deeper. Are you aware of any feeling of pressure on your ears at this depth after having tried equalising them\?

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    You should probably be able to feel the effects of equalizing even in a 2m pool and you can certainly practice just with breath-hold swimming to the bottom.

    Your best bet is to start equalising gently by pinching your nose and blowing into it pretty much as soon as your head goes under water and then keep on doing that as you descend until your ears feel normal again - waiting is pointless and just makes it harder.

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    Thanks for replies.

    Id really like to know what it feels/sounds like to people when your ears pop. Is it a loud pop? a crackle or click? a feeling rather than a sound?

    Its hard to tell if theyve popped for me or not. All i feel is the water in them.


    Thanks.
    Last edited by dangerousdan; 17-07-2019 at 10:38 AM.

  9. #9
    Pedantic Pig Divemouse's Avatar
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    You're moving air from one space to another through a narrow tube - I think 'pop' is too strong a word unless the tube is inflamed. I don't hear anything.
    Definitely don't doubt Dawn - not if you value your life

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    Quote Originally Posted by Divemouse View Post
    You're moving air from one space to another through a narrow tube
    Exactly - I'd say it feels a bit like burping. As for the sound... a bit like one flap of a flag in the wind. Hope this helps :-)

    But don't overthink it - just be sure to equalise early. It will become much easier over time; I know I often descend without any conscious effort to equalise these days.


 
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