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Equalizing your ears is a fundamental aspect of diving, and improper ear equalization can lead to discomfort, pain, and even eardrum damage. Familiarizing yourself with various equalization techniques is essential for every diver. Here are common methods and additional details to ensure your ear safety while diving:

Valsalva Maneuver:

The Valsalva Maneuver is the most frequently taught equalization method during open water courses. To perform it, pinch your nose closed and blow gently. This action increases air pressure in your throat, prompting the Eustachian tubes to open and allow air to flow into your inner ear cavity.


Swallowing offers a more natural and less forceful way to equalize ear pressure. It involves swallowing a small amount of saliva or performing the swallowing motion. This method opens the Eustachian tubes more gently, allowing air to pass.

Toynbee Maneuver:

The Toynbee Maneuver combines elements of the Valsalva Maneuver and swallowing. Pinch your nose closed, as in the Valsalva technique, and swallow. The act of swallowing pushes your tongue back slightly, increasing pressure in the throat's rear and facilitating the passage of air into your ears.

Lowry Technique:

This method merges aspects of the Valsalva and Toynbee Maneuvers. Begin by pinching your nose, then blow and swallow simultaneously to equalize ear pressure.

Edmonds Technique:

For the Edmonds Technique, tense your soft palate and throat muscles while pushing your jaw forward and down to open the Eustachian tubes effectively.

Voluntary Tubal Opening:

Tensing the muscles, as described in the Edmonds Technique, while starting to yawn gently opens the Eustachian tubes. This method, although requiring practice, offers a hands-free way to equalize and can be mastered to equalize at any time during the dive.

In summary, mastering various ear equalization techniques is crucial for every diver. Utilizing these methods correctly ensures your ears remain comfortable and safe during descents and ascents. Keep in mind that some techniques may require practice, so divers are encouraged to become proficient in multiple methods to handle various diving scenarios effectively. Additionally, early equalization is key; it's easier to equalize before you feel discomfort rather than waiting until you're in pain during a dive.


RAID Examiner, and director of Diving Solutions (Asia), in Singapore.

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