Question Is it normal that I don't need to equalize?

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Barmaglot

Barmaglot

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I got certified about five years ago, and initially, I was equalizing like most everyone - pinch my nose and blow into it. However, at some point, during a liveaboard in the Philippines, I got congested after a few days of diving and found myself completely unable to equalize. Fortunately we were near Dumaguete and there were a couple other divers on board with ear problems, so we took a ride to a local hospital where a doctor saw me and prescribed some medicine - don't remember what it was. After another day, I was able to equalize again, albeit with significant difficulty - I was blowing into my nose with every little depth change, both up and down, and I could hear squeaking inside my head as air was getting forced from one cavity to another through barely-there openings. Fortunately, after a week or so, this cleared up completely, and ever since then, I found myself not needing to equalize at all anymore. I can drop like a rock from surface to thirty meters, or seesaw between twenty-five and five meters as I'm chasing down a photo subject, and all I feel is a tiny hint of pressure in my ears that immediately releases by itself with a barely audible puff. Am I just fortunate, or could this be an early sign of some other problem?
 
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Barmaglot

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Fortunate, but don't count on it. If I dive a lot my ears seem to equalize themselves, if I can't dive for a month or two, I have more of an issue equalizing until I get re-habituated. Equalizing is acquired trick.
I actually dive quite sporadically - generally a brief burst of intense diving (like a liveaboard with 4 dives per day) followed by months of dry time, and yet it seems like I can get into water, drop like a rock to 30 meters and feel nothing.

As others have said, you're still clearing, just unconsciously.
That's the thing, I don't think I do - I've tried holding very still as I drop, doing absolutely nothing, and it still happened. I'm not moving my jaw, or swallowing, or using any other technique that I've read about. Very, very occasionally, like once in ten dives, I actually feel pressure in my ears and have to nose pinch and equalize. The only thing I can think of that I might be doing subconsciously is popping my ears, like in a moving elevator - tension that muscle inside my head that seems to put a slight load on both eardrums (there's a slight pop and then reduced hearing as I hold it), but I've been able to do that for as long as I can remember, and I don't recall it being helpful with equalization on descent.

I want. Find out the name of the meds, please.
Hahaha, I wish... it's been over two years now. I wonder if it's that diving while congested and working really hard at clearing that widened some passages between cavities, so that now stuff flows more freely.
 

CourtneyN

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I got certified about five years ago, and initially, I was equalizing like most everyone - pinch my nose and blow into it. However, at some point, during a liveaboard in the Philippines, I got congested after a few days of diving and found myself completely unable to equalize. Fortunately we were near Dumaguete and there were a couple other divers on board with ear problems, so we took a ride to a local hospital where a doctor saw me and prescribed some medicine - don't remember what it was. After another day, I was able to equalize again, albeit with significant difficulty - I was blowing into my nose with every little depth change, both up and down, and I could hear squeaking inside my head as air was getting forced from one cavity to another through barely-there openings. Fortunately, after a week or so, this cleared up completely, and ever since then, I found myself not needing to equalize at all anymore. I can drop like a rock from surface to thirty meters, or seesaw between twenty-five and five meters as I'm chasing down a photo subject, and all I feel is a tiny hint of pressure in my ears that immediately releases by itself with a barely audible puff. Am I just fortunate, or could this be an early sign of some other problem?
My left ear seems to equalize pretty easy on it’s on most of the time, but not my right 🤷🏻‍♀️
 

DiveProKoko

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.... I can drop like a rock from surface to thirty meters, or seesaw between twenty-five and five meters as I'm chasing down a photo subject,..... Am I just fortunate, or could this be an early sign of some other problem?
Same here....it's always been that way. Weird, but I'll take it! Be grateful you're that fortunate. :)
 

NZRoheryn

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I got certified about five years ago...

I find this fascinating. Many years ago, when I first did my certification training, I drove my instructors nuts because I wouldn't hold my nose to equalize (and thus they couldn't see that I was equalizing as needed). I told them I didn't need to hold my nose, and didn't see the point when I could equalize just fine with my ear muscles. I thought everyone could do it, and they had no idea what I was talking about! I finally realized this talent was unusual, but I still refused to hold my nose to make my instructors happy. I suspect the ability is under some genetic control: two of my kids can do it too, but the third can not.
 

TMHeimer

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I find this fascinating. Many years ago, when I first did my certification training, I drove my instructors nuts because I wouldn't hold my nose to equalize (and thus they couldn't see that I was equalizing as needed). I told them I didn't need to hold my nose, and didn't see the point when I could equalize just fine with my ear muscles. I thought everyone could do it, and they had no idea what I was talking about! I finally realized this talent was unusual, but I still refused to hold my nose to make my instructors happy. I suspect the ability is under some genetic control: two of my kids can do it too, but the third can not.
I'm curious why they would think you were not equalizing. Would you not be in obviously noticeable pain?
 

Anish

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I got certified about five years ago, and initially, I was equalizing like most everyone - pinch my nose and blow into it. However, at some point, during a liveaboard in the Philippines, I got congested after a few days of diving and found myself completely unable to equalize. Fortunately we were near Dumaguete and there were a couple other divers on board with ear problems, so we took a ride to a local hospital where a doctor saw me and prescribed some medicine - don't remember what it was. After another day, I was able to equalize again, albeit with significant difficulty - I was blowing into my nose with every little depth change, both up and down, and I could hear squeaking inside my head as air was getting forced from one cavity to another through barely-there openings. Fortunately, after a week or so, this cleared up completely, and ever since then, I found myself not needing to equalize at all anymore. I can drop like a rock from surface to thirty meters, or seesaw between twenty-five and five meters as I'm chasing down a photo subject, and all I feel is a tiny hint of pressure in my ears that immediately releases by itself with a barely audible puff. Am I just fortunate, or could this be an early sign of some other problem?
I have been lucky to always equalize automatically(not by blowing but something I can just do inside my ears) so I can descent pretty fast if I want to. I dont think there is anything wrong with me!
 

captain

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I got certified about five years ago, and initially, I was equalizing like most everyone - pinch my nose and blow into it. However, at some point, during a liveaboard in the Philippines, I got congested after a few days of diving and found myself completely unable to equalize. Fortunately we were near Dumaguete and there were a couple other divers on board with ear problems, so we took a ride to a local hospital where a doctor saw me and prescribed some medicine - don't remember what it was. After another day, I was able to equalize again, albeit with significant difficulty - I was blowing into my nose with every little depth change, both up and down, and I could hear squeaking inside my head as air was getting forced from one cavity to another through barely-there openings. Fortunately, after a week or so, this cleared up completely, and ever since then, I found myself not needing to equalize at all anymore. I can drop like a rock from surface to thirty meters, or seesaw between twenty-five and five meters as I'm chasing down a photo subject, and all I feel is a tiny hint of pressure in my ears that immediately releases by itself with a barely audible puff. Am I just fortunate, or could this be an early sign of some other problem?
Being a mostly warn weather diver I have found that it is harder to equalize at the beginning after several months over the winter of not diving. After resuming diving several times a month it becomes easier.
 

Angelo Farina

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All these guys who equalize without forceful action are actually using the BTV method. Which also I use "spontaneously" since when I was a child.
Some people do it voluntarily (as the name suggest, béance tubaire volontaire), some others do it spontaneously, as the muscle which opens the tubes is triggered by some sort of reflex, without the need of performing any voluntary action.
It is the best equalization method, and I always suggest it to my students as the 1st to attempt, if they can. When they cannot, then other methods are to be attempted: Toynbee, Frenzel, Marcante-Odaglia, Lowry.
As the last resort I explain Valsalva, which in my opinion is the worst, to be used only in extreme cases, as I have seen many students damaging their eardrum doing it improperly.
I do not have a very nice opinion of instructors who only teach Valsalva and do not know nor use the other, better, methods.
Not every diver can use BTV, as some people seem to not have the control of these muscles. But even if an instructor cannot use BTV, he should know of the method...
More info on BTV here: How to Do Hands-Free Equalization (BTV/VTO) - OpenWaterHQ
 
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