Tips for Easy Equalizing
Listen for the “pop.” : Before the dive, make sure that when you swallow you hear a “pop” or “click” in both ears. This tells you both Eustachian tubes are open.
Start early : Several hours before your dive, begin gently equalizing your ears every few minutes.
Descend feet first : Air tends to rise up your Eustachian tubes, and fluid-like mucus tends to drain downward. Studies have shown a Valsalva maneuver requires 50% more force when you’re in a head-down position than head-up.
Look up : Extending your neck tends to open your Eustachian tubes.
Use a descent line : Pulling yourself down an anchor or mooring line helps control your descent rate more accurately. Without a line, your descent rate will probably accelerate much more than you realize. A line also helps you stop your descent quickly if you feel pressure, before barotrauma has a chance to occur.
Stay ahead : Equalize often, trying to maintain a slight positive pressure in your middle ears.
Stop if it hurts : Don’t try to push through pain. Your Eustachian tubes are probably locked shut by pressure differential, and the only result will be barotrauma. If your ears begin to hurt, ascend a few feet and try equalizing again.
Avoid tobacco and alcohol : Both tobacco smoke and alcohol irritate your mucus membranes, promoting more mucus that can block your Eustachian tubes.
Keep your mask clear : Water up your nose can irritate your mucus membranes, which then produce more of the stuff that clogs.