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Equilizing Problems

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Jun 13, 2003

I've started teaching my girlfriend to spearfish. She's been out a couple of times but battles to equilise. Spent yesterday afternoon in the pool trying to teach her how to equilise. In the shallows(2m) she equilises using the Frentzel Tecnique(don't know where she learnt that from:confused: ), but the moment she starts going to 3 meters the pain becomes unbearable. I've even tried to get her to equilise by pinching her nose and plowing gently. She complains that even in the shallows that when she pinches her nose and blows her ears still pain. She's a doctor, and has had her ears checked out and they are OK.

Anybody got any ideas?? Maybe its psycological?? By the way, she really keen on learning, spent 4 hours in 11 degrees water with a 3mm surf suit (no hoodie)!!! As she would put it :"must shoot fish!!!"

maybe pinching her nose and blowing "gently" is the problem.. some folks really have to bear down and blow forcefully to get those ears to pop.

My wife has had trouble with one ear for a long time and is just now getting it to equalize on occassion. My brother didn't realize how hard he had to push to equalize, but after finally figureing how much force it took him to clear his ears a few times, he now has no trouble and it has become much easier. I'm sure at one time I maybe had trouble too, but I guess I don't remember... I can say that it's a piece of cake now.

just my thoughts on the matter....

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Thanx for the advice. Will try it out tomorrow at the pool. I also can't seem to remember when i started out, whether i had equilising problems or nor!!! Maybe i've just got a selective memory!! :eek:

Have her practice often out of the water as well. She may not be completely popping the ears. Eq. is like everything else, the more you do it, the faster the tissues adapt.
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She tried equilising outside the water yesterday, but complains about pain in the ears. Says it just about bearable. Is this normal??? (This is after blowing quite hard)

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Doesn't sound normal to me. If there is pain in the ears while eq-ing on land, that sugests that air is getting into the ear - and that te pressure is irritating an injured area. Maybe there's some mild trauma (e.g., bruised ear drum) that occurred on previous sessions. It may be hard to distingish between the original pain (probably caused by lack of equalization) and the current pain (possibly caused by an injury).

Maybe your gf can get a fellow doc to take a peek in the ear for any signs of trauma, infection etc. Are there any secondary signs of an ear injury, like vertigo?

Over-zealous equalization can definitely do some damage. It's good that she's using the Freznel technique, since it's high-pressure/low-volume. This provides all the force that you need, but minimizes the risk of a rush of air injuring the ears (in contrast to Valsalva, which is hard to control). Also, I find that if I go too deep w/o equalizing, one of the tubes can close off, causing one ear to get over-pressured and the other to be under-pressured.
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Will definitely have her ears checked out again. She could possibly have injured her ears when we were in the pool two days ago.

She may be blowing too hard, too fast. Have her pinch her nose and then slowly inflate the nostrils so that she can feel the pressure build and then pop the membrane of the ear. It should only take a tiny bit of pressure if she is using the tongue as a piston.
Give her a few days for the middle ear to dry out. She should be equalizing at the surface...getting the technique down is very important. The saying is, 'equalize often.'
I slightly traumatized my ears on my first freedive and learned to pay close attention to the process.
Good technique prevents injury and allows for those multi-day dives. If too aggressive, she may injure the ear and at that point needs to spend time allowing the ear to resolve. If she shakes her head rapidly and feels fluid, then there's retention in the middle ear...it happens, but needs to dry out. Nasal sprays and sinus decongestants help a lot. Post-dive, use drying drops. Prevention is easier than cure :)
Good luck and keep us informed.
Also, look up 'Ears' or 'Equalizing' on the search function.
Enjoy and dive safe.
Miles, I hope you have read this: http://www.deeperblue.net/article.php/396/17

I blew an ear drum many years ago when I was only 12, in 5m of water. It kept me from going below 2-3m for over 2 years.

These days I go for a continual equalise (sic) until I get to my target depth.

another skill that I have found handy is reverse equalising (is that the right term?), that is, learning how to relieve the pressure if your tubes are blocked by gunk when you ascend. A reverse block is extremely painful. :(
Thank you for the help. My girlfreind had her ears checked out and they were OK. Went to the pool on Saturday and she was able to reach the bottom of the pool (3meters) with only slight discomfort.

Went diving on Sunday and she reached 5 meters!!! Again slight discomfort. I suppose that the slight pain will disappear with practise. Water was 11 degrees and i had to drag her out after 2 hours.......she was having so much fun!!! She even managed to shoot two fish:D

I think next week i'll be teaching her how to take out crays, so that i don't have to do all the hard work!!;)

Regards, all

Hi Miles,

Cold water can cause problems..
I remember last summer diving and trying to push air into my ears at about -10m... I was spearfishing at Corwall, beatiful clear waters loads of kelp... well anyhow as I kept pushing I got a pain in my ear and I surfaced.. I had to wait for some time for my ear to "get better" let all the pressure away.. hurt quite a bit. I think at that time I bruised or what ever it is called, my ear drum. I kept diving after about 10min surface time. Equalizing hurt, from the surface all the way to -15m, and after the dive I was in pain.

Few weeks ago I went to a doctor who took a look at my ears for an other reason and mentioned that my eardrum had scar tissue, as if it had been broken..

This happend after 2 days intensive diving to about -10m and 16C water...

I would suggest that if there is pain, be very careful!! perhaps as your gf to keep hold of her nose through the whole dive down, and keep slight pressure on all the time.

Best wishes..
(My girlfriend never learned and now she is my ex...:t)

Miles, the technique Pekka suggests here, "perhaps as your gf to keep hold of her nose through the whole dive down, and keep slight pressure on all the time." -- is exactly what should help her be very comfortable...freediving is not about pain! :eek:

BTW, thanks for the great description, Pekka. :cool:
Hey Miles

I agree with Pekka, I think the cold water may be a problem. I do not have direct pain in my ear, but my right-ear just does not feel 100 percent 'open', and if I equalise lightly out of water, I have mild discomfort in the ear, and I can feel the ear trying to clear completely. It is definately from the fact that I have been diving quite a bit lately, sounds like it may be a milder form of what your girlfriend has. I'm going to take a break for a few days, and see how it feels, so far no problems equalising.

PS, I leave for Wilderness saturday for 11 days, on a spearfishing trip to try out Herolds Bay, Vic Bay, Gericke's point, Knysna, etc. Apparently BIG cracker, and lotsa large fish around, so hopefully will have a goodun. So far have only shot Hotties and Galjoen, so trying to get my first 'real' fish.



I will get her to try out the advice given and see whethers it removes the discomfort.

Pekka, i worked for two years in London an spent a week in Cornwall with my ex-girlfriend (she absolutely hated the water..........would mess up her hair!!!.......note i said EX--girlfriend!!). You live in a beautifull part of the uk. I can't remember about the tides in conwall, but i know that there was huge tidal variances in the Thames as well as south-end pier. The walls of the thames where i stayed was about 8 meters and at high tide the water would be about 1 meter from the top, whereas at low tide there would be a sand bank about 3-4meters from the wall that was dry. Always amazed me to see sheer volume of water that moved with the tides.

Bluecape, i'm extremely envious!!! Haven't dived that far up the coast yet but did go to stillbay. Loads of fish and warm water. Good advice when shooting cracker, add an extra weight to your belt because you'll be diving very shallow, 1-6meters. Find a reef with white water and wedge yourself between some rocks. You'll see them darting in and out of the white water. They also make a loud sound underwater, almost as if somebody is banging two rocks against each other. Sometimes you'll hear them before you see them. Also try not to shoot any other fish if you're after cracker, this tends to spook the bigger fish. But most importantly, see that you are the first diver at the whitewater.........you snooze...you lose!!!! Have a brailliant trip and do send some pictures of the monster cracker you're going to shoot!!

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Hey Miles

Thanks for the pointers ! I will post some pics on DB for sure when I get back, hopefull with some fish ! I have had a bit of advice from a few people about where to dive, also been told to keep an eye open, apparently it's shark-country big time !
I leave saturday, returning next Monday. If you get a gap and want to head thru for a few days/ weekend, give me a call on 082 728 9235. Accomodation no worries, staying at my folks.



PS post's into triple figures...does that mean I qualify for an all-expenses paid trip to the Cayman Islands curtosy of DB...or is that just a rumour ?
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Tides are very strong here, mess up not only your hair but your diving too if you ae not careful. at "my" beach high tide is good diving, low tide is good diving, but if you are in water between high and low, it is as if you were diving in a river.. all sorts of stuff fly past... not good for diving unless you like the idea of drifting couple of miles during your dive...


Bluecape, thanx for the offer, but unfortunately i won't be able to get away from work for more than 1 day:waterwork

Sorry for the delay in response, was diving:D Shot 15 yellowtail between 3 guys yesterday. Dived with Attie Louwrens (springbok spearo). Real eye opener. They were shooting 'tail up to about 10kg's with-out a floatline or reel!!! Got a report that 3 divers shot 38 fish on wednesday (yellowtail and geelbek). We unfortunately didn't get any geelbek:( Also heard on the vhf radio that a angler caught a 60kg yellowfin about 2 miles from bellows, we shot some tail there in the afternoon!!!

Have a good trip and show those cracker what us cape town guys can do!!!:D


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Bluecape. Enjoy your trip. Hope you get them crackers.

Miles. I will give you a call during the holiday if the sea is nice.

I'm going to dive the West Coast tomorrow.!!!!!!
Yeah 8 to 9 degrees.

Cheers Reinier
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