Beat the Squeeze: Equalise like a Pro!

Beat the Squeeze: Equalise like a Pro!

From simple cases of swimmer’s ear to the serious and sometimes lasting damage of barotrauma, divers are vulnerable to ear problems because the delicate mechanisms that govern our hearing and balance just aren’t designed for the rapid pressure changes that result from diving.


Your middle ears are dead air spaces, connected to the outer world only by the Eustachian tubes running to the back of your throat.

If you fail to increase the pressure in your middle ears to match the pressure in your outer and inner ears, the result is painful middle ear barotrauma, the most common pressure-related ear injury.

The key to safe equalising is opening the normally closed Eustachian tubes. Each has a kind of oneway valve at its lower end called the "Eustachian cushion," which prevents contaminants in your nose from migrating up to your middle ears. Opening the tubes, to allow higher-pressure air from your throat to enter your middle ears, normally requires a conscious act. Swallowing usually does it. You equalise your ears many times a day without realising it, by swallowing. Oxygen is constantly absorbed by the tissues of your middle ear, lowering the air pressure in those spaces. When you swallow, your soft palate muscles pull your Eustachian tubes open, allowing air to rush from your throat to your middle ears and equalise the pressure. That's the faint "pop" or "click" you hear about every other swallow.

Scuba diving, however, subjects this equalisation system to much greater and faster pressure changes than it’s designed to handle. You need to give it help.

DAN, as the diving industries leading diving safety authority, has created this great little guide that not only discusses various ear equalisation techniques, it will also help you to better understand how your ears respond to pressure and how you can protect them while scuba diving. The guide covers:

● 6 Methods to Equalise Your Ears

● 10 Tips that Make Equalising Easier

● How Your Ears Respond to Pressure

● How to Deal with Other Ear Problems.

The purpose of DAN's Smart Guide is to help you understand how your ears respond to pressure and the best ways to protect them while scuba diving.