How to Equalize in spearfishing and freediving (apnea)
When we start in spearfishing, freediving or in our first dives, we need to equalize our ears. Some people don´t know about it and are forcing and feeling pain. Other ones don´t know exactly what it is and how to do it properly.
In this short article we will try to explain easily what it means and how to do it. We will use a couple of pictures, very simple, only a scheme. There is explained the running of equalization. Communications between external ear, middle ear, sinuses and nose.
So, we are going to know the different parts:
External ear: the external part. It includes the ear (outside) to the eardrum. This is the limit and after that starts the middle ear. The eardrum suffers a lot with pressure changes (when we are going down or ascending). We will see it forward.
Middle ear: starts in the eardrum, and is the internal part of the ear. It´s communicated with the sinuses. Compensation consists to blow air into the middle air, through the sinuses.
Eustachian Tube: the channel between the sinuses and the middle ear.
Sinuses: The sinuses are a connected system of hollow cavities in the skull. The largest sinus cavities are around an inch across; others are much smaller
So we are going to understand how it works.
When we start diving (descending), the external pressure will be increased. The first 10m will be double (1atm to 2atm) Pressure blends the eardrum inside and is painful. And in the worth situation could broke the eardrum.
Equalize consists in blow up air into the middle ear. The internal pressure will be increased, compensating the external pressure and the eardrum won´t be blended (same internal/external pressure)
We need to do that many times in the first meters because the pressure changes faster in this part. When we are going deeper, the frequency is lower. It´s very important do it continuous, from the first meter. Never wait to feel pain. And never in “hits” The eardrum is being blended and less is better. If we are forcing habitually we could lose audition.
And if we are forcing in equalizing, through the hours, could be inflammation and be impossible to equalize. It´s dangerous and we could suffer an injury.
To equalize we cover the nose with our fingers and blow. The air will pass to the middle ear as we said. It´s very easy, and it´s called Valsalva. There are other types of equalize, but not all the people is able to do. We will talk about it in other article.
When we are ascending is the opposite. The pressure inside the middle air is bigger than the external, blending the eardrum outside. We don´t need to do nothing. Equalize is self-winding. The air goes from the middle ear to the sinuses and nose itself. At this time we would never try to equalize. Could be dangerous (injury) because we are increasing this pressure, when we should reduce it.
Sometimes, when the tubes are inflamed, mucus… could be harder the equalization. We should be careful with this. And not dive or stop doing it.
Equalize is very important. It´s not a joke. We could be injured, hard of hearing or even deaf.
A good equalization is when we don´t feel nothing. No “pops” or other noise. Not “hits”, should be continuous. And if we feel pain or it start to be harder along the diving, we should stop and rest. It´s better stop a few days and don´t damage the ears. In the worse situation we could be deaf and with tinnitus (it´s a continuous noise, the rest of our life. Day and night)
This article is the basis of equalize. Be careful about it and try to do the best. Never force. Never feel pain.