Don’t let your ears ruin your dives!


Author: Boby Taylor

You’ve completed your final checks; you jump into the water, signal to show you’re ready and begin your decent. You try to equalize, but nothing happens, you try again but still nothing happens and now you feel discomfort.

Do you continue trying to descend or end your dive before it has even begun? It is incredible to think that almost every diver at some point in their diving career will suffer with ear and equalizing issues.


What if you could prevent equalizing issues and never have to worry about losing out on a dive again? It is crazy to think that 89% of divers do not equalize correctly and that 29% of divers have had to stay out of the water for days, weeks or even months, due to problems caused by not equalizing properly. It’s hard to think that you could be part of the 6.3% of divers who now have permanent ear damage caused by using the incorrect technique that we are all taught at the very beginning, when we all learn to dive.

We as divers are equalizing all wrong, but now it’s time to change, making equalizing issues a thing of the past.

As fledgling divers, we are taught the ‘Valsalva Maneuver,’ which is where you pinch your nostrils and blow against a blocked nose. This technique results in overpressure in the back of your throat that forces the air up into the Eustachian tubes, creating that ‘popping’ sound inside your ears.  This might work for some, but for others this can cause a list of issues. The three biggest issues with this technique are…

  1. It does not activate muscles that open the Eustachian tubes, meaning that it may not work if the tubes are locked by a pressure difference.
  2. It is way too easy to do damage if you blow too hard through your nose.
  3. Blowing through a blocked nose raises the internal fluid pressure, including the fluid pressure within the inner ear, which may in turn cause damage to the tiny structures within. If you do use this technique, make sure that you do not maintain pressure for longer than 5 seconds and that you do not push too hard, even if you can’t equalize, no matter how frustrating it is.

However, don’t worry, we have the answer to all of your equalizing problems. There are 5 better, safer and healthier ways to equalize, these include:

Toynbee Maneuver – Pinch your nose and swallow at the same time.

Lowry Technique – Pinch your nose, blow against your nose and swallow at the same time.

Edmonds Technique – Pinch your nose, blow against it whilst moving your jaw forward and downwards.

Frenzel Maneuver – Pinch your nose and make the sound of the letter ‘K’ at the same time.

Voluntary Tubal Opening Technique – Tense your throat and push your jaw forwards and downwards.

These five techniques and maneuvers will change the way you dive for the rest of your diving life.

If you would like to learn more about equalizing and the potential issues you face if you don’t equalize correctly as well as new and safer ways to clear your ears on a dive, then take a look at this incredible infographic, created by the team at

Don’t let your ears ruin your dives – Graphic by the team at

Author: Boby Taylor

I’m a diver by heart, and writer by passion. I spend most of my days diving or going through by photos of the previous days diving. I was raised in a diver family, and basically spend all family holiday on a boat or in the water, and luckily my parent’s passion also became mine. Now, I’m an instructor diving and working in Thailand, and try to spread my love for the ocean onto my students.

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June 12, 2017 |

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