Do you feel like you have water in your ears, your hearing is muffled, or your ears hurt after a day of diving?
Do you feel like you have to take a break after 2-3 days of diving?
If so, you are not equalizing properly. Proper equalizing techniques will greatly reduce the likelihood of this happening.
These above issues are likely caused by Barotits media, an injury to your ear. This is likely being caused by not equalizing frequently enough. Most divers use pressure and/or pain as the cue to equalize and that’s why their ears hurt, or it feels like water is trapped in their ear after a day of diving. You need to equalize much more frequently, before you feel pain or pressure, practically every other kick. I’ve had to teach/ddive for 16 days straight before and I have none of these symptoms due to equalizing more frequently.
Tips to help make equalizing easier.
Staying properly hydrated makes equalizing easier. Drink lots of water throughout the day.
Mucinex is our secret weapon. Sudafed and Afrin help clear the ears, but these are both accelerants which raise our heart rate and work against us a freedivers. Mucinex(in blue bottle) is an expectorant and gets mucus in your ears, noses, and sinuses out of your head. This makes it easier for the air to pass through these small spaces. It takes about 2 days to really start working, so I start two days before diving. This is certainly not required but may hep. Consult your doctor before you start taking any new medications.
Craning your neck so that you are looking at the bottom makes equalizing more difficult. If you are having problems equalizing, try tucking your head in, so you are not looking at the bottom.
Equalize before you feel pain and pressure much earlier than you are used to, so keep you hand on your nose the whole time. Don’t take hand on and off your nose every time you equalize.
Frenzel vs Valsalva Which method of equalizing do you use?
Have one hand pinch your nose and one hand one your stomach. Equalize 5 times, if you feel ANY movement from the chest or the stomach each time you equalize you most likely using the Valsalva method.
This method is severely limiting as a freediver. If you use Valsalva you will have a hard time equalizing past 30ft. If your ears hurt past 30ft this is likely why. One spearo in my last class could dive to 70ft using Valsava. He had to level out horizontally to equalize or sometime turn head up to get the last equalization in. Talk about inefficient! Now that he uses Frenzel he dives down perfectly straight and has no problems equalizing.
Care of ears.
A great way to reduce the likelihood of an ear infection is buy traditional swimmers ears. Dump out half of the solution and refill other half with regular vinegar. This combination of alcohol, vinegar and the glycerin is a great way to reduce chances of ear infections. I’ve found by placing these modified ear drops in my mask box even I can’t forget to use it. Consult an ENT if you have further questions.
All of my courses teach students how to frenzel and advanced equalizing techniques to make equalizing problems a thing of the past.