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Hood Squeeze

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Deeper Blue Beachcomber
Nov 23, 2002
Well unfortunately I can talk from experience :( Yesterday I went diving and coming up experienced some very slight reverse squeeze - not painful at all. But....at 3 AM (16 hours later) I woke with a very painful ear hearing some crackling and wondering what was going on.

In the morning there was some blood in the ear canal and I went to the ear specialist. Result was a nice bubble of blood on the eardrum, luckily not perforated, probably from the negative pressure while ascending.

I'd had no problems equalizing and I think the problem came from forgetting to let water into my hood and therefore into my ear. Normally I do as if I only have air in the hood it's more difficult to equalize, but as I'd had no problems I clean forgot to flush my hood.

Result is a week of antibiotics to prevent infection and no diving until I get the OK from Doc. If everything goes well it'll be a week or so. It's wierd walking around with a full feeling in one ear! Keeps making me want to tilt my head. :)

lol, that had to be a weird experience. That has never happened to me before. lol, hope it dosen't either. :D
OOOOH! Crap! I hope that heals fast for you :) Ive never heard of that before.
There was some talk on that custom wetsuits thread about puting a small eyelet in your hood by your ears to prevent horrors like that.
Well on the bright side, it will give the fish a further week to grow ;)
Y'know, I think that was brought up in the Performance Freediving seminar I attended, in fact I'm sure it was. Like Alison said, the recommended preventative is to put a small hole (like with a hot needle) through the hood. When I get a hood, I'll be sure to remember!
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I’m glad you’re going to be okay! What happened to you is classic for hood squeeze. The problem with hood squeeze is with air trapped between the hood and the outside eardrum (outer ear) the air space becomes negative just like the middle ear (inside of the eardrum). Thus the eardrum is actually equalized which takes away the usual eardrum bending pain we are accustomed to feeling as a sign to equalize more.

But negative air pressure in the middle ear can do more harm than over bending the eardrum. Usually the first thing that will happen is the drawing of fluid, which usually includes blood, into the middle ear to help relieve the negative pressure. Thus the full ear feeling when you surface. It can feel like a reverse squeeze, because with the fluid in the middle ear, the middle air may not be able to bleed off the pressure through the eustachian tubes like it normally would on an ascent, so the eardrum get pushed out like in a reverse squeeze.

The worst thing that can happen is the rupturing of the window between the middle ear and the fluid filled inner ear. This will result in permanent hearing loss. A less several problem is rupturing of surface blood vessels in the outer ear.

I’m guilty too of not taking the time to put little holes in my hood. I try to remember to put some water in the ear air space, but relying on my memory, especially when doing apnea, is a prescription for trouble for me.
Thanks for the reminder to get this done!
Thanks everybody! :) Today is the first day I'm really feeling an improvement. Should clear up in a few more days.

Hood squeeze can be fatal. In September 2001, I experienced a hood squeeze, and my left outer-ear capillaries ruptured at 75m, causing a sudden drastic increase in outer ear pressure, causing a sudden spiking pain in my left eardrum, and very nearly breaking the eardrum. Those were the days of 'less safe' diving practices (no lanyard or backup system), and in that case the vertigo of a rupture mixed with the narcosis and darkness probably would have been the end.

That accident happened with a hood which already had punched holes in it. That really doesn't work in my opinion. It might work sometimes, but if you are unlucky the hood will be in a position where the hole is in the wrong place (unless you punch holes all over making your hood into a net).

So, these days I always flood my hood (both ears) at around 8m, on EVERY DIVE. One of the things I love about no-suit diving is I don't have to flood my hood and worry about suit squeeze.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
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Originally posted by efattah
So, these days I always flood my hood (both ears) at around 8m, on EVERY DIVE. One of the things I love about no-suit diving is I don't have to flood my hood and worry about suit squeeze.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada

I think thats the key, I forgot to do it that time and was lucky it didn't turn out to be worse. You can bet I'll remember next time, and turn it into a habit, making it as automatic as recovery breathing.

Originally posted by efattah
In September 2001, I experienced a hood squeeze, and my left outer-ear capillaries ruptured at 75m,

Hi Eric
Sorry Im not really up on freediving folks, although I realise you are a cut above average :) Now thats 75 metres? not feet? @*#! now I am impressed! Ive been to 60 but that was with scuba and I thought that was deep rofl Sorry this should be a PM as it has nothing to do with hood squeeze but do you have any Nitrogen problems at that depth? Could you even by PM explain to me any phsycological feelings you have at that depth, I know I get jittery at 30 metres and what drives you to do this. If you could I;d be really grateful :D

Deep freedivers need to worry about DCS, N2 narcosis, CO2 narcosis/blackout, O2 toxicity, as well as the common issues of lung squeeze, and hypoxic blackout.

In warm, clear water, I have gone as deep as 75m without noticeable narcosis.

In dark, cold water, I notice the effects of narcosis on 'line' dives to 60m+, with narcosis becoming more severe on 70m+ dives.

During recreational dives in cold dark water, with no line, the dives are more energy intensive (exploring), and more disorienting (no line). Also, fear is more apparent since no one is going to meet you during the ascent. On recreational dives in cold dark water, I feel the effects of narcosis starting during the descent at around 40m, with the effect becoming severe around 50m.

On 'line' dives, I believe that CO2 is the main culprit, and not surprisingly, the narcosis gets worse during the early part of the ascent. When I did my 88m pb in 2001, the narcosis was the most severe around 55m on the ascent. By 40m on the ascent the narcosis is slightly fading, although I still feel narked when I get back to the surface and it takes about 2 minutes for it to fade completely.

I haven't suffered from DCS yet, but in 2001 I did two 71m dives with only 12 minutes apart--not wise. In summer 2003, I was doing recreational freedives in the 45-50m range with 8 minutes intervals, without DCS. These days, if I do a recreational dive in the 45-55m range I take a much longer interval.

However, many freedivers have been bent recently (Bevan, Tyler, Herbert, Benjamin Franz, Sam) etc....

You can read the stories of some of my dives in 2001 (including comments about narcosis):

Since 2001 I have become far more proficient at controlling the narcosis. The key is a positive, happy, joke-like attitude on the descent. On the ascent, I count my strokes and visualize the count in big white numbers in front of me, still keeping a focused, positive attitude.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Thanks Eric :)
Its hard to know what to say!
Its a credit to you that youre so aware of the narcosis at the time, I know when Ive had it I wasnt really aware of it at all, I was told afterwards lol but as I dived deep regularly, my nitrogen tolerance built up and the affect largely dissapeared; so you must have a fair tolerance :)
You have my respect thats for sure :)
GOOD information!

Thanks all for the good info re: Hood Squeeze. My wife (new diver) nearly always wears a hood to keep warm (I haven't used one yet but I don't get cold as easily). This stuff is good to know about and will help her to have many happy (and pain-free) years as a diver!

thanks again!
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