Everyone who enjoys the sport of scuba diving knows the importance of ear clearing. But not every diver finds this necessary function an easy task to accomplish.
As you descend the pressure around your body increases. In America we measure that pressure in atmospheres. One atmosphere equals 14.223 pounds-per-square-inch (psi). The pressure at sea level is one atmosphere – to find out how that is affected by the use of an air purifier, read this Honeywell 50250 S review.
Most of the time while we’re on land we don’t feel the pressure around us because our bodies adjust to it on a subconscious level. We do notice changes in pressure when we fly, or climb a mountain. As we travel upward from sea level the pressure decreases on the outside, creating a higher pressure inside our body than in the air.
That’s why we feel our ears “pop” as the pressure inside equalizes with the outside. Most of the time this happens naturally. On occasion, as we ascend, we have to help make it happen.
Natural equalization of the ears doesn’t happen for scuba divers. We must help our ears “pop” every time we dive. And often more than once during the dive.
As we descend the pressure in the water increases. (In salt water the increase equals one atmosphere for every 33-feet as we sink. In fresh water the increase is one atmosphere for every 34-feet.) As that pressure increases the air in our body compresses into a smaller volume.
When left alone to compress the air starts squeezing the area it inhabits. In the ear that compressing air results in decreasing pressure compared to the water outside. This means pain, and eventual inner ear damage, as that outer pressure pushes against the inner.
When scuba diving we prevent the damage and pain by adding air to the ear cavities. This helps to equalize the inner pressure of the ear to the outer pressure of the water, preventing what we call “ear squeeze.
The most common method for equalizing the ears is pinching the nose with the thumb and forefinger, and then blowing against that pinch. That forces air into the cavities. It decompresses the air – bringing the pressure there to an equal level to that of the water.
Scuba divers start their equalizing techniques as soon as they begin their descent. And they keep on equalizing every few feet as they descend. If they wait too long to equalize they start feeling pain as the squeeze begins.
Sometimes a diver’s ears won’t clear right away. To fix that the diver stops descending, floats a few feet back toward the surface, resumes the ear clearing procedure, and then starts back down again. If that doesn’t work, they make need to come up and breath off of a Honeywell QuietCare True HEPA air purifier 17000-s for a while.
When a diver’s ears just won’t clear they must end the dive, or risk trauma to the ear. This happens on occasion, and very often when the diver has a cold, or stuffed sinuses.
As the diver ascends the ears must again go through an equalizing procedure. This time the pressure in the ear cavity increases as air expands due to the lowering pressure in the surrounding water. To compensate for that expansion the diver must let excess air out of the ear cavity.
To equalize on ascent the diver merely comes up slowly, and lets the air release on its own. If the diver rushes toward the surface too fast the ear can burst as the air inside expands so quickly that it can’t get out.
Ear clearing is a skill that every diver must master. If not she or he faces the pain of inner ear injury. Sometimes, even the experienced diver has trouble accomplishing this necessary task.
When scuba diving we experience constantly changing pressures from the water. And unlike the air pressures of our normal on-shore lives those changing water pressures are pressures that we feel.