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How to prevent ear injury when scuba diving

Views:117     Author:Site Editor     Publish Time: 2019-08-22      Origin:Site

It is well known that solid buoyancy control technology and appropriate equipment (such as diving knives, diving buoys, diving backpacks, etc.) can help divers solve problems encountered in diving. But proper ear pressure balancing technique is equally important, it can keep you away from swimming otitis and long-term injuries from air pressure injuries. Therefore, ear pressure balance in the middle ear is one of the most important skills that divers must master.


1. Causes of ear injuries caused by diving

Divers in scuba diving often encounter the problem of ear pressure balance. Ears are not naturally adapted to rapid pressure changes during diving. The deeper the diving, the greater the pressure, and the greater the damage to the ear caused by diving pressure. The eardrum in the ear is very thin. The pressure in deep water can directly break through the eardrum.


2. Prevention of Ear Injury

Equalizing methods :

(1) Independently open the pipeline method: use the muscles of the soft palate and the throat to stretch the chin down to the front, just like starting to yawn. This action can pull the Eustachian tube open.

(2) Toynbee Maneuver: Hold your nose slightly and seal your nostrils while swallowing to open the eustachian tube.

(3) Franzel method: Seal your nostrils and tighten the muscles behind the throat, just like when standing tall. Then send the tone of the letter "K". This will open the Eustachian tube with a portion of the compressed air behind the tongue.

(4) Lowry Technique: Hold your nose slightly to close your nostrils and swallow as you breathe.

(5) Valsalva Maneuver: Squeeze your nose (or use the mirror ring of the diving mirror to block your nostrils) and gently blow your nose. This will increase the pressure on the throat, forcing air to pass through the Eustachian tube. Valsalva Maneuver is the most commonly used balance technique for novice divers. The disadvantage is that this technique can injure the ear if the air is too strong or not applied before the pressure changes. If the diver dives too deep, the pressure can close the eustachian tube, and the air can not enter the middle ear, resulting in unbalanced ear pressure. If the gas is forced through the closed channel, it may cause ear barotrauma.

(6) Edmonds Technique requires you to perform a Valsalva Maneuver while pushing your jaw forward and down.

Equalizing tips :

(1) Equalize beforehand – Start a good habit by equalizing your ears several hours before the dive or before stepping on board the boat. Begin by gently equalizing your ears every few minutes to help reduce the chances of experiencing a block on your Eustachian tubes. Wait for the “pop” or “click” sound to indicate that both Eustachian tubes are open. You can repeat the process just before submerging your head below the water and again when you’re barely below the water surface.


(2) Equalize at the surface – If you’re new to diving or often have a difficult time equalizing, you can gently practice the technique even when you’re not in the water until you get the hang of it. This pre-pressurizing method at the surface can make your Eustachian tubes slightly wider but perform this only if it is helpful to you. During the actual dive, do it with every breath during your first 30 feet, without waiting to feel the pressure build-up.


(3) Plunge feet first – Air moves up more readily to your Eustachian tubes when you descend feet first and fluid-like mucus has the tendency to drain downward.


(4) Use a descent line – It is easier to control your descent rate when you pull yourself down using an anchor or mooring line. This way, you can avoid accelerating too fast and you can easily stop if you feel the pressure building up.


(5) Stop when you feel pain – The rule of thumb is to stop diving when you experience throbbing pain in your ear because your Eustachian tubes are probably clogged by the pressure differential. Pushing through the pain may only lead to ear barotrauma, an injury caused by pressure changes. When you experience discomfort or pain, it’s advisable to go back a few feet up and try equalizing again.


(6) Avoid tobacco and alcohol – Avoid smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol which can both irritate your mucus membranes and promote the production of more mucus that might block your Eustachian tubes.


If you’re the type who often have problems equalizing, it might help if you practice several of the techniques mentioned above. Learning the different methods can help you determine which works best for you. Once you master a technique and feel confident about it then you can say goodbye to the ear pain the next time you go diving. 

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