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Can Only Equalize One Ear

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by mkpelletier, Apr 11, 2005.

  1. mkpelletier

    mkpelletier Garibaldi

    I'm currently in my OW pool sessions, I'm due for my last session tommorow. Since it's only confined water dives reaching the bottom of the pool isn't a problem, but when I ascend and reach the surface I feel dizzy and disoriented because my ears are out of balance. I practice equalizing at home (not in the water) all the time, but I keep finding that I can only equalize my left ear. This is becoming a very serious problem because my open water (30 to 40 feet) is coming up once the water gets a bit warmer. I can feel my left ear pop, and I can also feel air going into my right, but it just won't pop. It gets to the point where I'm blowing forcefully to try and pop my right ear... when my left has already popped it starts to hurt. Does any one have tips on popping one ear specifically?
  2. 616fun

    616fun Divemaster

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Indianapolis, IN
    Try to move your jaw side to side. Stretch your neck from one side to the other as you look at the ceiling. It helps open up the tubes. Tell your instructor of your troubles and I'm sure he/she will show you what I'm talking about. If you still have issues - talk to a doc. Some meds can help you, but don't take anything over the counter intil a doc knowledgeable in diving tells you to. Some meds are counter indicated for diving.
  3. mkpelletier

    mkpelletier Garibaldi

    I've read just about every thread I can find on the subject of new divers having difficulties with equalizing, I've read about the anatomy of the ear several times, it seems I've tried every trick... obviously I haven't though. Frustration is definitely setting in... I'm heading over to the dive shop tonight to talk to my instructor. Thanks for the advice anyway.
  4. molksmith

    molksmith Solo Diver

    Please don't try ever try to force your equalization. You can cause some damage.
    that wasn't even there to begin with
    You could have something as simple as a lot of wax buildup or something like an infection or something else that at depth could cause some serious problems.
    GO SEE A DOCTOR!!!!!!!!!!
  5. MoonWrasse

    MoonWrasse Loggerhead Turtle

    Can you equalize when you fly?

    If so, you should be able to when you descend. Relax and go back and reread all the ear equalization threads here. I'll bet you either have some blockage (not always easy to tell) or you are descending too quickly for your equalizing.
  6. mempilot

    mempilot Rebreather Pilot

    I'd go see a ENT. If you are dizzy, you may have temperature imbalance in the inner ear caused by a small perferation in the eardrum. This will cause vertigo in colder water temps.

    Been there, done that.
  7. rainmaker

    rainmaker Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: NE Georgia, USA
    I'd suggest going to a doc who is familiar with diving problems. Also, hang in there and keep learning as much as you can about equalizing techniques. It is probably one small thing that is keeping you from equalizing properly.

    For me, my "one small thing" was not tilting my head back when I equalize. I learned (the hard way) that my Eustachian tubes tend to open when my head is back, and tend to close when my head is forward.
  8. LakeDragon

    LakeDragon Garibaldi

    It is very important to solve this problem before going out on the checkout dive.
    I had no problems in the pool, but during my 3rd checkout dive I had ear clearing
    problems decending that eventually resolved, and when I did my emergency swimming ascent drill, one ear did not clear. I ended up on the surface
    with everything spinning very quickly. My instructor towed me to the edge of the water where I was unable to stand up and very nauseous. After lying there for about 1/2 hour things cleared up a bit and I was able to stand up and go the hospital where they told me my ear was bruised by not perforated and to wait a couple of weeks before trying again. I completed my checkout dives 3 weeks later and haven't have the problem again.

    One thing I do now is clear Very often on the way down, as irritation of the ears from pressure buildup on the way down can cause them to fail to clear on the way up.
  9. nauidiver2004

    nauidiver2004 Solo Diver

    I have had trouble clearing my ears from the very begining. I thought they were clear but ended up rupturing my eardrum during my final checkout dives. Not real fun! Doctor said six weeks of no water. I found that no one technique works all the time for me. Sometimes I have to tip my head back, sometimes to the side, sometimes I have to just stop for a minute and wait. I found that if I explain to my buddy my ear problems before we decend, I usually end up getting a response like "yea, me too". A lot of people have some difficulty with thier ears and it can easily be overcome with patience and training. See a doctor and take your time. I go a little slower than some but I only loose about a minute of bottom time and I dont get benched for another six weeks. Good luck.

  10. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    I want to expand upon the good suggestion earlier in this thread that you not try to force it. The valsalva method you are probably using is very effective when the eustachian tubes are not fully closed, but it is not a good method when they are closed. It uses no real muscle activity, only the force of moving air to try to push through the closed spaces. This effort can be part of a chain of events that can cause what's called a round window rupture within your ear.

    The suggestions for swallowing, moving your neck, etc. will help in conjunction with the valsalva because they involve muscle action that can open up the tubes enough to let in the air.

    The key is this: if you feel pain, your tubes are already too closed for an easy valsalva to work. My strongest suggestion would be to ascend immediately to a level where you feel no pain, then go back to the valsalva (and other suggested movements) to see if it will work. The lack of pain means the pressure has been reduced in the tubes, and it will be easier to open them up.

    And relax. If you get tense about it, it only gets worse. Trouble equalizing is very common in beginning divers because their ears have not had to do this kind of work often, and those ears are a tad lazy. As you get more expereinced, so will your ears. When I was beginning, I had so much trouble I seriously wondered if I would be able to continue diving. Now, although I normally have no trouble whatsoever, I still have had occasions when I have had to work to get down to the deep end of the pool in a confined water class, and I have seen instructors stuck near the surface for a while in OW checkout dives. It happens to everyone, and if you give the "trouble equalizing" signal, people will be patient and understanding.

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