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Equalization education is poorly taught.

Discussion in 'Q and A for Scuba Certification Agencies' started by scuba_jamie, Apr 30, 2018.

  1. scuba_jamie

    scuba_jamie Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Michigan
    In my PADI OW class, equalization was an early part of the course and very brief. We were taught to gently use the Valsalva maneuver "early and often." On my first checkout dive, I discovered that being gentle wasn't effective for me. For the next 10 dives, I rather forcefully equalized with the Valsalva with no problems. However, on the surface after dive #11, I discovered that my left ear felt full/stuffed up and I experienced mild hearing loss. I asked more experienced divers on the dive about it and they shrugged and said "yeah, that's pretty common for new divers. It should resolve itself in a few weeks."

    After consulting with DAN and an ENT and doing a ton of reading, I've determined that I have eustachian tube dysfunction. The forceful Valsalva maneuver caused irritation in my eustachian tube/middle ear, which caused my eustachian tube to swell shut. After doing more research, I'm discovered that there's a ton of literature that recommends against Valsalva because of the potential for damage. And yet the resulting problems seem common enough that experienced divers blow them off as "it happens." Two weeks and an oral steroid regimen later and my ear is still giving me problems.

    I'd really like to see the information in this DAN article to be integrated in to basic OW curriculum: Beat the Squeeze: Equalize Like a Pro
  2. Seaweed Doc

    Seaweed Doc Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seattle, Washington State, USA
    There's a great line I've heard: "Experienced divers don't buy high-priced stereo equipment."

    The idea is that their hearing is shot from pressure changes, so there's no point.

    FWIW, my experience indicates that alternate techniques are in the text, but that instructors realize they're tricky (at best) to do and so go with Valsalva in the pool and openwater. The result is that experienced divers don't buy high-priced stereo equipment, leaving them more money for SCUBA gear.
    kelemvor and Jay_Antipodean like this.
  3. northernone

    northernone IDC Staff Instructor Staff Member

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Currently: Cozumel, from Canada

    Emphasising the need for gentle equalization is really important. Ignoring this training gets painful quickly as you've discovered.

    Thanks for sharing the article, it's a good one.

    Hope the recovery is speedy.
  4. aquacat8

    aquacat8 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Savannah, GA
    After I watched this video and practiced, I developed this habit of equalizing... I find myself doing it in bed or on the couch, anywhere. Sometimes when diving I don’t even think about it, it’s just happening. Learn equalizing from a freediver!
  5. Kharon

    Kharon Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Upstate NY
    Can't wait to try this out in the water. I'll be practicing on the couch till I can get back divng.
    aquacat8 likes this.
  6. EireDiver606

    EireDiver606 DIR Practitioner

    I fully agree with this. I often take a while to equalise aswell, because my right ear equalizes slowed i think. Either im not great at it, because I wasn’t shown very well or my ears are just not used to it?

    When you were new to diving, were you all slow to equalise at the start?
  7. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!
    EARLY and often. Blow, then go. IOW, do your first equalization on the surface just before you start to descend. It will make a huge difference.

    BTW, I was free diving down to 50 ft yesterday and experienced no issues with equalizing my ears... but my sinuses gave me fits. Pop on the surface. Pop again at about 20, feel the pressure really start to pound above my eyes and then hear the slow release of air into the sinus cavities in my forehead. I did about 20 dives that way, and just before the pain got unbearable, the sinuses would clear with a high pitched sound of air squeaking past.
    EireDiver606 likes this.
  8. aquacat8

    aquacat8 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Savannah, GA
    Where were you freediving?
  9. aquacat8

    aquacat8 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Savannah, GA
    That sinus thing sounds knarly!
    @The Chairman were you congested?
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
  10. aquacat8

    aquacat8 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Savannah, GA
    Just don’t plug your nose all the way practicing... actually I do it on land and sometimes underwater without plugging my nose at all. ( Usually underwater I do but sometimes I can do it freehand.) The great thing about Frenzel is it works with a head down descent, like a hot drop In Jupiter Florida for example.

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