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Travel Guide Travel Health Squeezes

A 'squeeze' in scuba diving is created due to the differences between pressure of the surrounding water and air pockets in the human body. 3 areas of the human body contain air pockets that are subject to squeezes:

1. The ears

The ears maintain a small amount of air pressure inside the eardrum, and when pressure from the water on the outside presses the air pocket further into the head, pain is caused. You must clear your ears in order to equalise the air pressure inside your ears and continue diving.

To clear your ears, you must either swallow, move your jaw rigorously or else pinch your nose closed and try to gently exhale through it. You will know they are clearing by the popping sounds they will make. For safety reasons it is recommended you attempt to clear your ears regularly, even if you are not feeling any pain. NEVER attempt to clear your ears forcefully - this can damage them. If you are having trouble clearing your ears, notify the dive leader and do not descend any further until the problem is resolved.

WARNING - not clearing your ears will result in serious (in certain situations deadly) injury. If you find you cannot clear your ears you must stop and signal your dive leader immediately. They will make the decision to ascend and help you to do so.

2. The area of air a mask creates around the eyes and nose

Because the human eye has not evolved to see clearly underwater, we are forced to take a pocket of natural environment (air) down into the water with us. This air is subject to the same pressure differences as the rest of your body, and it too must be equalised. Exhaling small amounts of air from your nose into your mask should clear your mask. If you feel the mask begin to press into your face, stop descending immediately and equalise.

WARNING - eyes are fragile organs. Even small amounts of pain in the eyes should be treated very seriously by a diver. If you feel any pain from the mask, stop, equalise, inform the dive leader and monitor the situation closely.

3. The lungs

The lungs are the biggest air pocket your body has, so you must take special care not to subject them to rapidly changing pressure underwater. NEVER ascend more than 9 meters per minute. ALWAYS breathe normally (that is to say, slow gentle inhale followed by slow exhale). NEVER hold your breath for any reason. Even if your regulator falls out of your mouth, you must blow out a steady stream of bubbles.

WARNING: holding too much air in your lungs during ascent can lead to potentially deadly over-expansion injuries.

Remember, the point of a dive is to have fun, and if at any time you feel pain, stop and combat the situation. If at any time you feel uncomfortable, stop and reconsider if you want to dive. A diver has the right to call off a dive at any time, even if you just got in the water. Do not risk injury simply to go with the crowd.

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This is version 2. Last edited at 15:17 on Jul 6, 10 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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