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Keeping your ears safe while diving: ear equalization basics

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By: Dillon Waters

So you are thinking of signing up for your first scuba diving course, or even better, you’ve already made the commitment to start your new adventure, but you aren’t sure about your ears. Swimming down to the deep end of the pool is something you’ve done before and you aren’t sure if your ears will be able to handle going any deeper than that on scuba. Do not worry though, your scuba instructor’s job will be to teach you the skills necessary to dive and that includes the proper ways to equalize the pressure in your ears underwater. If you want to familiarize yourself beforehand, you have come to the right place.

Why You Must Equalize

Your middle ears are dead air spaces, connected to the outer world only by the Eustachian tubes running to the back of your throat. In normal everyday conditions, or when the outside pressure is within a normal level, the Eustachian tubes are closed. During a dive the pressure from the surrounding water is higher than the pressure exerted on us by the atmosphere of air we are used to on land. So we must equalize the pressure of our middle ear with that of the pressure around us, also known as the ambient pressure, by opening the normally closed Eustachian tubes. Opening the tubes usually requires a conscious act by the diver.

How to Equalize

There are many ways to equalize the pressure in your middle ear; some of which are listed and explained below. During your course you will be able to determine the one that works best for you.

  • Swallowingone of the most effective and preferred methods of equalization, using the throat muscles to open the Eustachian tubes.
  • Valsalva Maneuver – the “go to” equalization technique of divers for years. Pinch your nostrils and gently blow through your nose. This results in a slight over pressurization in your throat, which normally forces air up your Eustachian tubes.
  • Frenzel Maneuver Close off the vocal cords, as though you are about to lift a heavy weight. The nostrils are pinched closed and an effort is made to make a “K” sound. This should force the back of your tongue upward, forcing air against your Eustachian tubes.
  • Toynbee Maneuver with your nostrils pinched, swallow.
  • Lowry Technique with your nostrils pinched, swallow and gently blow.
  • Edmonds Technique Pressurization by either the Valsalva or Frenzel maneuver, combined with a jaw thrust or head tilt to more effectively.
  • Beance Tubaire Volontaire Muscles of the soft palate are contracted while upper throat muscles are employed to pull the Eustachian tube open. Tense the muscles of the soft palate and the throat while pushing the jaw forward and down as if starting to yawn.

When to Equalize

Early and often is the golden rule here. Many divers like to start very early in the day before even arriving at the dive site by swallowing to ensure their Eustachian tubes are opening. Also, pre-pressurizing your ears before descent may help with equalization after you’ve submerged.  From here on throughout the dive, your ear equalization will vary based on your body and the dive profile you are following. You should equalize when you feel any slight pressure in your ears throughout the dive, as well as when you reach a depth that you will remain at for any extended period of time. If your ears begin to hurt you should ascend a few feet in the water column and try to equalize again.

Practice Makes Perfect

For those that are still concerned whether or not they will be able to equalize their ears, or for divers who are having trouble doing so, you may find it helpful to practice several equalization techniques. Many of them can be difficult unless practiced repeatedly, but it is one of the few scuba skills that can be practiced out of the water and almost anywhere. Begin practicing it in the mirror to observe your throat muscles, and then practice anytime you have a free second. Before you know it you will be a pro, and the almost endless scuba diving opportunities around the world will be at your fingertips.


To find out more about International Training, visit www.tdisdi.com.

From its humble beginning in 1994 to today, the group of training agencies Scuba Diving International (SDI), Technical Diving International (TDI), and Emergency Response Diving International (ERDI) form one of the largest diving certification agencies in the World – International Training. With 24 Regional Offices servicing more than 100 countries, the company today far exceeds the original vision the founders had when they conceived the idea on a napkin, sitting at a kitchen table in the early 1990’s.

Dive Training Blogs

PADI Women’s Dive Day 2021 highlights important role inclusivity plays in creating balance between humanity and ocean

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PADI®, the world’s largest ocean exploration and diver organisation, is celebrating with divers from around the globe tomorrow for the seventh annual PADI Women’s Dive Day on Saturday, July 17.

With the overwhelming support of the dive community over the last six years, PADI Women’s Dive Day has grown into a worldwide celebration of shared adventure, passion and ocean advocacy. The annual event is dedicated to fostering a global community that encourages divers of all genders, ages, races, backgrounds and abilities to safely and confidently explore and protect the underwater world. Year after year, Women’s Dive Day activities have addressed ties between diversity, inclusion and environmentalism – with this year’s events scaled accordingly for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“PADI Women’s Dive Day is an opportunity for divers everywhere to unite as a community with the common goal of creating balance between humanity and ocean,” says Kristin Valette Wirth, Chief Brand and Membership Officer of PADI Worldwide. “PADI has a wonderfully diverse and inclusive community of members and divers in 186 countries around the world.  We celebrate this diversity, as it is embedded in the ethos of our organisation. We take pride in the progress we’ve made to increase diversity, accessibility, and inclusion in our sport and constantly challenge ourselves to do more.”

Since its inception in 2015, the event has contributed to the significant growth in the number of female divers and subsequently, PADI Torchbearers™ who have shared and inspired passion for ocean conservation. The dive community is teeming with female divers who are marking remarkable contributions for improved ocean health and connecting their communities to local waters. Throughout the month of July, PADI is spotlighting the stories and perspectives of incredible #PADIWOMEN around the world who are leading change by example and opening doors for countless others to experience the ocean firsthand, including Zandile Ndhlovu, a PADI Freediver Instructor™ from Johannesburg, South Africa, who founded the Black Mermaid Foundation to make the oceans more inclusive.

“Together as a global dive community we can save our oceans,” says Ndhlovu. “Once people get to experience the ocean, it changes everything around how they’ve always looked at it. It begins to also feel like home, a place that they will always protect. And that is why it is important that there is always diverse representation in the ocean.”

Other notable women include Xochitl Clare, a PADI AmbassaDiver™ and marine biologist from California, United States, researching the effects of climate change on fisheries species; Cody Unser, a PADI AmbassaDiver who is working  to introduce more people with disabilities to diving and promote the sport’s therapeutic benefits; and 13-year-old Julia Aveline Rabenjoro a PADI Junior Advanced Open Water Diver in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

“Learning to dive really transformed my life because it introduced me to a whole new intricate world that makes me feel at peace and it taught me how much we really depend on our ocean,” says Aveline Rabenjoro. “My greatest hope for the next generation of female divers is for them to grow in numbers and never doubt the difference they can make no matter where they come from or who they are. Together as a global diving community, we can further this by sharing our passion and love for diving with others who haven’t yet been lucky enough to explore beneath the surface.”

Divers and non-divers alike can connect with the motivating stories of PADI women and learn how they can join the community by visiting padi.com/women. They can find PADI Women’s Dive Day events in their area or participate virtually through social media conversations utilising the #PADIWOMEN hashtag.

Year-round, people worldwide can access PADI’s recently launched Conservation Activities Locator to find local events in their community. From joining an underwater lake cleanup in Connecticut to taking part in a week-long conservation workshop in Belize, ocean enthusiasts have a variety of experiences to choose from on Women’s Dive Day and beyond.

To learn more about how you can participate in PADI Women’s Dive Day, contact your local PADI Dive Center or Resort, or visit www.padi.com/women. For information about learning to dive, visit www.padi.com/education/learn-to-dive

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Dive Training Blogs

A Guide To Tipping Your Dive Professionals (Watch Video)

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How much? Who? Where?! Let us help answer your questions on tipping your dive master or dive instructor!

Scuba Travel Podcast featuring James from Divers Ready!

Link to Fly-And-Sea’s blog post on tipping: https://flyandsea.com/travel_blog/how-much-should-i-tip-on-a-dive-trip/

Giving your dive guide a gratuity is always a nice gesture, but can also be a source of social anxiety. Did I tip enough? Did I tip everyone I was supposed to? Should you tip a Dive Instructor you’re taking a course with? All of these questions…. answered!

Tipping varies culture to culture, so it’s always best to check on your dive destination’s local customs.

I hope this video helped some of you! If it did, please give it the thumbs up and subscribe if you haven’t already!

D.S.D.O,

James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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