Question Weird question - equalizing/water in ear

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HelpI'mNotSinking

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Hi all-
My diving has been limited to my OW class and certification back in March, so apologies if these questions/observations seem silly.

I have allergies (hayfever) and take Zyrtec every day. When the pollen count is high, I supplement it with Flonase.

During my OW dives, I had issues equalizing, and am not sure if I was doing it properly. As I descended, I had sharp pain in my ears and did every technique known to man. It got better when I could hear a small "eeeee" inside my ear (like a squeaky fart noise 😆). I had to go VERY slowly, otherwise the pain was awful, but it ceased with every ear squeak.

On days 2 and 3, I made an effort to clear out my sinuses by using a saline rinse and the Flonase before and after going out, as well as taking ibuprofen.

By the end of 3 days in the water, my hearing was definitely affected - like I had water in my ears that wouldn't drain. The left was worse than the right, and it took 2-3 weeks before my hearing went back to completely normal in my left ear. No vertigo, no dizziness, just a feeling of blockage. Apparently I was leaking a bit of blood out of my nose at the end of the 3rd day. :eek:

My question - was I truly equalizing, or was my middle ear filling with fluid, and the simultaneous relief of pressure made it *feel* like I was equalizing? And the ultimate question: how do I fix this? :(
 

Curious_George

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Since nobody answered, I’ll try to help out.

Judging by the report of blood and weeks of discomfort afterward, I think it’s highly likely that you were not equalizing correctly. There should never be any significant ear pain when descending. May want to consider discussing with your doctor.

Here’s the simple way to fix it: anytime you feel ear pain when diving you should ascend until it stops. Do not descend further if you have pain. If you have ear pain, no amount of nose blowing or whatever technique you are using will allow you to safely equalize unless you ascend first.

There are many great posts on equalizing techniques so I’ll not pretend to be helpful there and refer you to the search tool. Good luck, hope you get it figured out.
 

inquisit

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I believe the squeeking was indicative of equalizing, but WAY too late. (I've done that before with similar effect on hearing.) With your condition, try equalizing even before your head goes under water and every foot of so within the first 10 ft at least.

Do you equalize when descending on a plane or mountain drive?
 

johndiver999

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Since nobody answered, I’ll try to help out.

Judging by the report of blood and weeks of discomfort afterward, I think it’s highly likely that you were not equalizing correctly. There should never be any significant ear pain when descending. May want to consider discussing with your doctor.

Here’s the simple way to fix it: anytime you feel ear pain when diving you should ascend until it stops. Do not descend further if you have pain. If you have ear pain, no amount of nose blowing or whatever technique you are using will allow you to safely equalize unless you ascend first.

There are many great posts on equalizing techniques so I’ll not pretend to be helpful there and refer you to the search tool. Good luck, hope you get it figured out.
Don't want to split hairs but the bolded comments are not really true. You want to AVOID Pain. Do not descend until you feel pain and then try to resolve it (or go up).

Ideally, you want to equalize all the time, every foot (for the first 20 feet or something), so that there is no significant pressure differential, thus NO pain. Once you get pain, it becomes very hard to equalize and it causes fluids to leak out and induces swelling which further reduces your ability to equalize. You want to be very gentle with your ears and the more screwed up they are, the more careful, you should be.

You should not even feel mild discomfort.
 

Ana

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Another thing to help out is to massage the back of your ears with a balm/ointment shortly before the dive.

When I found out, I laughed at the suggestion making fun of the friend doing it, I called it witchery and asked her if she also took her broom on the dive. This friend of mine was using "Tiger balm" which of course fueled my BS-meter.

After smelling it, my curiosity got the best of me and had to try it. So I did, I loved the minty smell and felt there was nothing to lose. To my surprise I found myself descending way faster than I normally do. Granted I know myself and my ears, don't really have issues because I have a tendency to descend at a very slow speed, but was surprised of the improvement after such a simple thing, plus the smell was great.
Later I learned the massage with the ointment behaves similar that applying vapor rub to the chest for congestion.
 

Curious_George

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@johndiver999 thanks for not splitting hairs.
Do not descend until you feel pain and then try to resolve it (or go up).
Looking at your bolded text: nobody suggested this. Only someone who’s just learning would even try it. The OP stated they felt sharp pain when descending and that’s what I responded to.
anytime you feel ear pain when diving you should ascend until it stops.
It appears this guy said he felt ear pain and tried to keep going down when it was hurting. Anytime you feel ear pain, you should ascend until it stops. Just as correct here as it was when I said it above!

I also said the OP should search for proper equalization techniques. There are many outstanding discussions and me repeating parts of them isn’t needed.

edit to add: This is not a reverse block discussion. Response to pain may be different in that situation.
 
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HelpI'mNotSinking

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Apologies for the late reply, I'll try to clarify.
Do you equalize when descending on a plane or mountain drive?
All the time. Sometimes it takes a couple attempts, but don't usually have an issue.

I'm able to equalize on dry land by just tensing my jaw/throat to make my ears pop, so maybe my technique isn't sufficient/strong enough for under water? My instructor told us to use the Valsalva method, which I've never had success with, even on dry land.

I wasn't exactly feeling discomfort for those weeks after, it was more of feeling like I had perpetual water in my ears - when I spoke, it sounded (to me) as if I were in a tunnel. Still not a desirable side effect!

Is there any benefit to using Afrin? I've read you really have to time it right or else it makes it worse.
 

inquisit

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I'm able to equalize on dry land by just tensing my jaw/throat to make my ears pop, so maybe my technique isn't sufficient/strong enough for under water?
I can do a hands-free version on land easily, but not a chance under water. I have to hold the nose & blow when diving. Only a data point of one, but you might consider working on that.
 

GreggS

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I'm able to equalize on dry land by just tensing my jaw/throat to make my ears pop, so maybe my technique isn't sufficient/strong enough for under water? My instructor told us to use the Valsalva method, which I've never had success with, even on dry land.
I can do a hands-free version on land easily, but not a chance under water. I have to hold the nose & blow when diving. Only a data point of one, but you might consider working on that.
I was like you both for a long time after I started diving. I could use my jaw on land to equalize but couldn't while diving so I had to use the Valsalva maneuver, which I hated. I caused several ear problems .But I just simply could not use my jaw to equalize UNTIL I tried it a different way. I had been used to doing it by thrusting my jaw down and back but tha didn't work with the 2nd stage in my mouth. So I tried dong it different ways and finally found I could do it by thrusting my jaw forward. Now I can equalize quickly, constantly, and without pain.

As for water in your ears, I had a bad problem with water not draining out as well. I started using a product called Ear Shield, which coats the ear canal with oils. My ears now drain within a few seconds of breaking the surface of the water. Most dive shops carry it now or if yours does not, it can be found on Amazon.

Good luck. I know from experience the ear problems that can be caused by not being able to equalize properly.
 

inquisit

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finally found I could do it by thrusting my jaw forward
Thanks for sharing that, and this is what I do on land, too. On my list of things to do (someday, haha) is figure out the Freznel method, which I believe to be different than the jaw thrust.
 

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