Equalization Techniques for Scuba Diving

Valsalva Technique

How to do it:  Pinch your nose and gently blow air up through your throat and into the eustachian tubes. The trick is to blow with the right amount of pressure-but not too much, because you can damage the inner ear. Blow no longer than two seconds at a stretch.

What it does: Actively opens the eustachian tubes with an increase in air pressure.


Note: Everyone knows it; but many people still don’t do it quite right. Improper blowing techniques (example, blowing too hard or long) may result in rupturing the “round and oval windows” (see image ) which cause severe vertigo and vomiting. Therefore do not blow too hard, and do not maintain pressure longer than two seconds when applying this techniques.

Wiggling Your Jaw (Voluntary tubal opening)

How to do it: Contract the muscles in your soft palate (the back of the roof of your mouth) and throat while pushing your jaw forward and down. It should feel like yawning with your mouth closed, like you might do when trying to be polite during a boring conversation.

What it does: Tensing and stretching the muscles pull the eustachian tubes open. Some divers get good enough at this technique to hold their tubes open for continuous equalization.


How to do it: Preform a very gentle Valsalva maneuver by breathing against pinched nostrils and swallowing at the same time. Or hold your nose and forcefully press your tongue against the back of your throat while making a “K” or “ng” sound.

What it does: Contracts the throat muscles to open the tubes while compressing air against them with the tongue.

For Equalizing during Ascent

If a diver’s ears do not equalize automatically as he is ascending, he may experience discomfort in his ears as the eardrum bends outwards, called a reverse block. Reverse block occurs when air in the ears expands (due to pressure reduce during ascent, causing air to expand).

Swallowing/Toynbee (equalising on ascent)

How to do it: Pinch your nose and swallow at the same time.

What it does: Swallowing tenses the muscles in the throat and soft palate to pull the tubes open, while your tongue compresses air against them. This is considered one of the most natural ways to equalize

Note: Reverse block is caused by too much air pressure in the middle ear, so attempting a Valsalva Maneuver or other similar equalization technique for descents will only make the problem worse because it adds more air pressure to the already over-full middle ear (like blowing into a balloon which is already pumped up fully, but you still attempt to fill it in with more air).

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.

Diving Gadgets That Can Help Divers dive comfortably

Water and pressure affect every diver’s ears. Infection and discomfort to the ear are the most common health risks involved in diving, often causing permanent damage. For many divers, ear problems affect their ability to enjoy their sport when they have to abort their dive due to this problem.

For divers who fear that they could no longer dive due to having equalisation problem even after trying all the above mention methods of equalising and tips, fear not, as the following two products may be the answer to your equalisation problem.


Equalization Techniques for Scuba Divers


“PROEAR 2000™ is the world’s only practical ear protector for divers, designed and developed by diving physicians, engineers and instructors in order to enhance diver safety and comfort.

The unique design and performance of PROEAR 2000™ allow divers to keep their ears dry, thereby:

  • Improving diver comfort and preventing painful ear problems
  • Simplifying equalisation of pressures while diving.

All the diver has to do is gently blow air through his nose to keep the ambient pressure (taken from the regulator) into the mask and ear cups. This creates a kind of “buffering” effect that allows the ears to equalise in 2 stages: the first from the sea pressure into the ear cup, the second from the ear cup onto the eardrum.


Equalization Techniques for Scuba Divers


Unlike other earplugs which are solid and would not be recommended for diving, Proplugs are vented to allow equalization. The vented plug helps to reduces abrupt pressure changes from reaching the sensitive eardrum, as well as allowing air to escape through the plug’s vent which allow for easier and better equalization.

Doc’s Proplugs can prevent swimmers ear, and ear pain by blocking water from entering the ears, keeping ears warm and preventing the flushing of water in and out of the ear. Ear pain and infection are caused by cold exposure and erosion of delicate skin and wax in the ear canal.

Upon descent, Proplugs prevent water from entering the ear down to 20 feet in depth. Once the diver enters greater depths, water will be allowed into the ear for equalization. Unlike other earplugs, ours includes a Scott’s valve which allows ears to equalize easily and let sound in. Our proplugs have been used by hundreds of divers for over thirty years who testify that proplugs are the earplugs for divers.

Equalization with Doc’s Proplugs: Doc’s Proplugs have also been used by divers who have trouble equalizing. Unlike other earplugs which are solid and would not be recommended for diving, Proplugs are vented to allow equalization. While the small vent allows equalization to occur it does not allow debris to enter and it prevents earwax from washing out which exposes delicate ear tissue. The Proplugs keep ears warm by storing the head’s conductive heat; the warmth provided by the plugs drastically reduces the risk of thermal shock. Due to surface tension the vented plug also reduces abrupt pressure changes from reaching the sensitive eardrum which contributes to easier equalization. Clear ears often to allow air to escape through the Proplugs vent and allow for better equalization. Proplug wearers who have trouble clearing their ears should check to make sure a lump of ear wax is not blocking the canal or butting up against the vent. If the vent is fouled by debris while descending it is best to remove the Proplug. If fouled while ascending, there is no problem because the air and water under pressure can escape around the Proplug.Hundreds of thousands of divers have attested to the benefits of Proplugs for relieving pressure in their ear during descent.


Equalization Techniques for Scuba Divers


Invented by an ENT doctor to safely and effectively dry the outer ear canal where bacteria and fungi can grow.

  • Doctor recommended for use after swimming,
    bathing, water sports, workouts, hearing aid use, etc.
  • Helps prevent swimmer’s ear
  • Fast, effective and comfortable for all ages
  • Dries outer ear canal in about one minute
  • Cordless and rechargeable
  • Provides 50 drying cycles on a single charge
  • Comes with 5 color-coded, washable ear pieces for better hygiene between multiple users
  • Controlled air volume, temperature and cycle time


Equalization Techniques for Scuba Divers


Young Living Purification 10 drops – For anti-bacterial, anti-septic and cleansing
Young Living Melrose 10 drops – Anti-septic and reduces inflammation
Young Living Lavender 10 drops – Anti-septic and soothing effect
Young Living Thyme 6 drops – Anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-fungal
Young Living PanAway 4 drops – Pain Relief
Young Living Thieves 4 drops – Highly anti-microbial
Young Living Rosemary – Combat several bacterial and fungal organism
Young Living V-6 Carrier Oil 2 Tablespoons

Mix the above concoction into a small container. Depp a cotton ball into the concoction to lightly moisten, then place the cotton ball inside the ear for 30 to 45 minutes. This concoction is only good for 3 to 4 applications.