Ear Scuba Diving Tips:

Tips to Help You Clear Your Ears
And Equalize

If you have problems equalizing, we have some ear scuba diving tips for you to try.

As we all know, if you can't clear those ears, there won't be any diving.

Equalizing problems are not all that uncommon and I have seen many a diver have trouble getting down on their first try. It can be very frustrating - not to mention painful.

Hopefully these tips on how to clear your ears will make your descent easier and safer.

The most common method of clearing your ears is called the Valsalva maneuver. To perform this, you close your mouth, pinch your nostrils closed and gently blow through your nose.

If you are a certified scuba diver, this is the basic method they teach you in class. And it does work for many people.

However, if you are having problems, try these ear scuba diving tips to help you descend safely:

Start on the Surface

  • Before you even go under the water, start your equalization method. If you are using the Valsalva maneuver, gently blow through your nose while you are waiting to start your descent. This "pre-pressurizes" the ear and makes equalization easier upon descent.
  • Descend Feet First

    If you are descend with your head first, it affects the Eustachian tube and makes it harder to equalize your ears.

    Diver getting ready to go down

    If you are descend with your head first, it affects the Eustachian tube and makes it harder to equalize your ears.

  • Equalize Early and Often
  • This should be familiar from your scuba certification class. We are taught to begin equalizing as soon as your head goes underwater and continue equalizing every few feet.

    However, as stated above, I would take it one step further and begin equalizing before you even go under. Pinch your nose and blow through your nose while you are still on the surface.

    Then once you go under, continue equalizing all the way down. Don't stop even if you have equalized. Keep on blowing until you have reached your desired depth with clear ears.

    This is probably the most important step to descending without ear problems. If you are having problems clearing one ear, tilt your head - with the blocked ear toward the surface.

  • Ascend if Not Clearing
  • If your ears are not clearing properly, ascend a few feet to reduce the pressure. Try clearing them again. If it still doesn't work, ascend a few more feet and try again. Rinse and repeat until you have cleared your ears successfully.

  • Do Not Force It
  • If you have tried ascending and it is not working, abort the dive. If you force yourself down, you can cause permanent ear injury.

    In this same vein, if you are using the Valsalva method, do not blow forcefully. It should be a gentle blow. A forceful blow can also cause ear injury. It's better to forego a dive than have ear problems for the rest of your life. Probably the most important ear scuba diving tip to remember.

  • Do Not Dive With a Cold
  • Another mantra you probably heard in your certification class. Congestion can make equalization difficult. And even if you are able to descend, you run the risk of having problems during ascent, a condition called "reverse squeeze." This can also be caused by medications wearing off during the dive.

    I know many divers take cold medicine and dive anyway. Just be aware of the risks if you take this route.


    Below are a couple of sources for more technical ear scuba diving tips.

    I haven't gone into the more technical/medical aspects of ear pressure. You can find plenty of information online. One good article which goes into depth can be found here.

    A great video presentation on clearing your ears during scuba diving is given by Dr. Edmond Kay from the University of Washington. It has everything (and more) you wanted to know about ear problems. It is definitely worth a look if you are having trouble. Be warned, though, it is long - just under an hour.


    There are several other techniques besides the valsalva to equalize ear pressure, a discussion of which can be found in the article and video cited above. Practice them to see which one works best for you.


    Hopefully these ear scuba diving tips will make your dive more comfortable. Just remember to take it easy and take it slow. You should be able to get down there safely.


    If you would like even more practical tips and advice to help you get down safely and painlessly, please check out our Special Report "How To Get Your Ears To Pop". Click here for all the details.

    scuba diving ear equalization report

    We also have many more pages of scuba diving tips you many find helpful:

    Click Here for a Complete List of all our Scuba Diving Tips

    Short Video Tips on Air Consumption

    Short Video Tips on Buoyancy Control

    Air Scuba Diving Tips

    Boat Diving Tips

    Buoyancy Control Tips

    Night Diving Tips

    Tipping Scuba Diving Tips

    Scuba Diving Safety Tips




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