When diving, we experience increased pressure. If there is a differential between external pressure and our body spaces, we feel an uncomfortable, if not painful, pulling sensation, a condition we call “squeeze”. To protect against worsening squeeze, if we start to feel a squeezing feeling, we take measures to normalize pressure (called equalization), such as swimming at a shallower depth.
When the ear, normally adjusted to surface pressures, is exposed to increased pressure during diving, the middle ear’s eardrum can feel painfully disturbed. In this case, we use the Valsalva maneuver to equalize pressure.
The Valsalva maneuver is performed by forcibly exhaling at the same time you are pinching your nose while keeping your lips tightly closed. The action forces air into the middle air via the Eustachian tube. However, you should take care not to overdo the maneuver to avoid auditory damage form over-pressurization. Swallowing and a yawning motion are some of the gentler methods that can work as well.
Please practice the maneuver while wearing your mask prior to entering the water. In order to prevent squeeze, you should equalize frequently and in advance of any pain developing. If you find it difficult to equalize, slowly ascending to a shallower depth should resolve the issue.
If you experience pain as a result of being unable to equalize, please stop the dive.