Equalize Underwater Ear Pressure

Equalize Underwater Ear Pressure

As you descend into the water, the air inside your ear is compressed and its pressure reduced. The water on the outside of your ear increases in pressure causing a squeeze. You must equalize to bring the two pressures into balance. If you do not equalize properly, the pressure inside your ear could rupture your eardrum. A reverse squeeze is the opposite of a squeeze. It happens upon ascent.

The reverse squeeze occurs when the air inside the ear expands, but cannot escape. This usually happens to divers who have nasal congestion. A reverse squeeze can also cause severe damage to your ears.


  1. Descend until your head is just below the surface.
  2. Keep one hand on your buoyancy compensator (BC) inflate button.
  3. Pinch your nose closed with the thumb and forefinger of the other hand.
  4. Close your mouth.
  5. Tighten your cheeks.
  6. Blow softly until air pressure builds in your inner ear canals.
  7. You should hear gentle popping or crackling.Descend slowly - about a foot per second.
  8. Equalize intermittently, always before the pressure grows against your outer ear.
  9. If equalizing proves difficult, try swallowing or moving your jaw back and forth.
  10. If you are still unable to equalize, ascend until the squeeze disappears, then try again.

Equalize underwater ear pressure when scuba diving by pinching the nose and blowing out, wiggling the jaw or swallowing. Ear squeeze is caused when a diver descends creating a pressure difference across the eardrum between the outer and middle ear. The pressure must be the same, or equalised. Pressure difference forces the eardrum to bulge inwards from the higher pressure towards the lower pressure. This causes increasing pain until eventually the eardrum will burst; resulting in severe pain, ringing in the ears and possibly blood in the external ear canal. One of the first things you learn when you Scuba dive is the importance of equalizing your ears.

Equalizing your ears refers to opening up the lower ends of your Eustachian tubes allowing air to enter the cavity in your ears, to counter the pressure from the outside as you dive deeper. The most common way to equalize taught to you before your first dive is known as the Valsalva maneuver. The Valsalva method teaches you to pinch your nose so that no air can pass through your nostrils, and then gently “blow” your nose.

This action forces air into your inner ear space, equalizing the pressure within to the outside pressure often with an audible popping or clicking sound. As easy as equalizing sounds, even the best of divers can have trouble equalizing once in a while on dives. So, if you’re just having one of those days here are some great tips to help get your stubborn ears to pop so you can enjoy your dive with no worries. Learn to equalize a scuba mask by exhaling through the nose with instructions from a scuba instructor in this free video on scuba diving. Expert: Gregg Eddy Contact:

Last Updated on Friday 17th December 2010