Top 10 Tips on How Do I Equalize My Ears

Diving into water has always been an enjoyable experience for many people, but there are risks that come with the sport as well.

Divers who swim at depths greater than 10 feet below the surface of the water are more prone to experiencing barotrauma – which is a condition caused by rapid changes in air pressure when ascending or descending from a dive.

It’s not just divers who have this issue either; anyone who flies frequently might experience some discomfort due to these rapid changes in pressure too! In order to avoid this problem altogether, try practicing some of these ear protection techniques.

In order to understand how you can protect your ears, you have to first know what causes the problem in the first place. When you dive into water or travel at high altitudes, there are pressure changes that shift around the air most humans breathe in and out of their bodies on a regular basis.

How to equalize safely?

What is ear equalization?

It’s a simple term used to describe the process of adjusting your ears to the rapidly changing pressure when traveling quickly from high-pressure areas, like land, into low-pressure areas, like water.

Ear injuries are common in people who fail to equalize the pressure inside their middle ears with the pressure of the outer and inner ears. To do this, pinch your nose shut with your thumb and forefinger.

To prevent the discomfort of eardrum popping during changes in pressure, we need to equalize our ear pressures. One strategy for neutralizing your ears is by closing them with your thumb and forefinger while pinching your nose shut. You also can swallow which will usually save you from any discomfort!

Equalize Ears Graphic

A side effect of changing air pressure is the sensation that your ears are popping. When you swallow, this causes a click or pop as air rushes into your middle ear to equalize the difference in pressure between your middle and outer ears.

Scuba diving subjects our system of equalization, which is designed to handle gradual changes in pressure, to much more rapid and forceful changes than it can handle on its own.

All methods for equalizing your ears are ways of opening the lower ends of the Eustachian tubes. Air can enter these openings if you just try mucus and pressure changes

Air needs a medium with which to travel. In the case of air pressure, this is mucous. Your body produces mucous to coat your inner ear, which helps keep it lubricated and functioning properly!

Why do we equalize when we dive?

Once your feet have been sunk they will be reflected in your ears. This puts stress on the ears. We can equalize our ear’s pressure when we add air to our sinuses and Eustachian Tubes.

If we do not level off our ears, the pressure increases – from uncomfortable in addition to pain. To solve this problem add air to your nasal passages or tubes to support water pressure.

When should I equalize?

Most experts in descents recommend equalized all two feet (.6 meters) though usually it is already too late. Its average slope of 289 feet (172.282 m) per minute is a two-second decrease from its peak. Fortunately eagle jumpers ascend much more easily when the depth corresponding in this area equalizes frequently. Good news: at higher depths you have to equalize less often and if you are getting deeper a lot less frequently.

Top 10 Tips on How Do I Equalize My Ears


Tense Your Throat and Push Your Jaw Forward

Tense your muscles in your throat. This will open the tubes things that let you hear and breathe. Sometimes, people learn to do this and can keep their breath from going in or out too much.

Pinch Your Nose and Swallow

Keep your nose closed while you swallow. This will help open up your Eustachian tubes and make it easier for you to hear.

Pinch Your Nose and Make the Sound of the Letter “K”

Close your nose and throat, like you are trying to lift something heavy. Then make a sound that K. This forces the back of your tongue up, squishing air against the openings of your Eustachian tubes.

Pinch Your Nose, Blow and Swallow

Blow and swallow at the same time.

Pinch Your Nose and Blow and Push Your Jaw Forward

Stick your tongue to the roof of your mouth while you press your jaw forward and down.

Wiggle your jaw

The next tip is to wiggle your jaw side to side. This stretches the Eustachian tubes, and thereby equalizes your ears. You can also try shifting your head from side to side or even try to equalize your head. The final trick is to blow your nose underwater.

Pinch Your Nose and Blow

This is the method most divers learn: Pinch your nostrils (or close them against your mask skirt) and blow through your nose.

The resulting overpressure in your throat usually forces air up your Eustachian tubes.


If you can’t equalize your ears, end the dive. Continued descending to unequalized ears is painful and can lead either to mid-ear squeezes and/or ear drum rupture. Make sure you tell your buddy if you take a training course. The only way a diver could know you can’t equalize was if you told them so don’t tell them.

Now that we know swallowing is the strongest way of opening Eustachian tubes, and various other methods only work if there are muscles in the throat that can push air down it.

That’s fine as long as the diver keeps the pressure open ahead of the exterior changes. However, if a diver fails to keep up, the outside pressure can deform and close wounds in the soft tissue to block airflow into the middle ears.

If this continues for too long – even after diving stops – it can lead to barotrauma and rupture

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