1. Listen for the "Pop" or "Squeal"
Before you even board the boat, make sure that when you swallow you hear a pop or click in both ears. This tells you both of your ear canals are open
2. Start Early
Several hours before your dive, begin gently equalizing your ears every few minutes. "This has great value and is said to help reduce the chances of a pressure block early on descent," according to Dr. Ernest S. Campbell (Webmaster of Diving Medicine Online). "Chewing gum between dives seems to help also".
3. Equalize at the Surface
"Pre-pressurizing" at the surface helps get you past the critical first few feet of descent, where your often busy with dumping your BCD and clearing your mask. It may also inflate your ear canals so they are slightly bigger. The key with this is to pre-pressurize only if it seems to help you and to do so gently.
4. Descend Feet First
Air tends to rise up inside of your ears and fluids in your ears and other sinuses tend to drain downward. Studies have shown that clearing your ears requires 50% more force when your in a head-down position
5. Look Up
Extending your neck opens up your ear canals and makes clearing them easier.
6. Use a Descent Line
Pulling yourself down an anchor or mooring line helps you control your descent rate and allows you to stop quickly if you feel any discomfort.
7. Stay Ahead of It
Equalize often. Try to maintain a slightly positive pressure in your middle ears to avoid any discomfort.
8. Stop if it Hurts
Don't try to push through pain. Your ears may be locked shut by a pressure difference between your middle ear and the water around you. Continuing when you experience pain may result in trauma to your ears and ear canals.
9. Avoid Tobacco and Alcohol
Both tobacco smoke and alcohol irritate your sinuses and can cause them to make more mucus. This extra mucus can block your ear canals and make them difficult or impossible to clear.
10. Keep your Mask Clear
Water up your nose can cause irritation and cause more mucus to be produced which can make clearing your ears more difficult.
STC Dive Center
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