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View Full Version : Valsalva problems. Advice needed.


zogorion
15 March 2006, 16:51
Good day all. I'll try to make this brief.
While processing MEPS for my enlistment into the AF in 2001 I failed to be able to move my TM enough to pass my flight physical, which didn't come as a big surprise to me, because I've never been able to valsalva; make my ears pop by "holding my nose and blowing." So, I didn't get my aircrew job like I wanted, did the Intel thing for 4 years and got out last year.
Pretty much since my ETS, I've been doing the contractor thing in Iraq. Nothing high-speed, but I've now had a lot more exposure to Army Infantry and SF and have been contemplating enlisting in the Army as an 11B with an Airborne contract or 18X.
What I'm hoping someone can help me out with: Is there a way to learn how to valsalva, or train yourself to do it? And if not, is there a way to fake it for my next trip to MEPS? I can clear my ears just fine by swallowing, yawning, chewing gum, etc. I just can't valsalva.
From what I've read, not being able to valsalva is a big deal, because it seems you won't be eligible for any schools (Airborne, HALO, Ranger, SF) if you can't. I don't know if they do waivers for valsalva, but I've heard waivers for Prior Service are hard enough to come by to begin with. Just looking for a heads up, because I don't think I would be happy as a leg 11B without the potential to go to the high-speed schools.

I know I'm an FNG, but I appreciate any advice you guys can offer.

ussfpa
15 March 2006, 22:58
You don't have to valsalva by holding your nose and blowing...any of the techniques you stated that move your TM are sufficient.

That being said-"faking it" on your physical (or anything else important) is not the desired method. The last thing you need is to get someplace where you need to be able to equalize-you CAN'T- and you, your team, or your mission suffers.

It may sound "holier than thou"-but in the end, it is both the truth and the right thing to do.

PA

Sharky
16 March 2006, 00:12
You dont really know what pain is until you have blown out an eardrum because you couldn't equalize. BTDT.

zogorion
16 March 2006, 10:00
You don't have to valsalva by holding your nose and blowing...any of the techniques you stated that move your TM are sufficient. PA

No kidding? Man, that would've been nice to know before my first hitch. The way the guy said it when they DQ'd me led me to believe that was the only way to do it. All I meant by "faking it" was pretty much what you said, other ways to get the TM to move besides the hold and blow technique. I certainly wouldn't want to write checks my ass (ears) can't cash and blow and ear-drum.

Thanks to both of you for setting me straight.

Rob_0811
16 March 2006, 16:38
You dont really know what pain is until you have blown out an eardrum because you couldn't equalize. BTDT.


no truer words spoken.

I found that out personally at NAS Pensacola. I was going to be a Naval Flight Officer until that happened.:rolleyes:

It sucks. Truly. Don't try to fake it through, you will be sorry.

Sdiver
16 March 2006, 16:59
Z,
Give this a shot. Stretch your E-Tubes out. To do this. with head straight up and down, touch your left ear to the top of your left shoulder and do the same with the right. while you're doing this, open and close your mouth. You can also massage where your E-tubes run from the base of your ears to your neck. This should help "loosen" up the E-tubes and help you Valsalva easier.

Sharky...I know what your talking about with the blown ear drum thing. Got some serious "ringing" from the Maaaaaany times those things have gone pop at depth.

Sharky
16 March 2006, 18:34
Yeah, I made the mistake of flying with a bad head cold. No problem going up, but blew my left eardrum out coming down. I had blood trickling out of my ear. That's generally a bad thing. It literally felt like someone was sticking an icepick in my ear. The worst part was that there aint a damn thing you can do about it but ride it out. The pain was......exquisite.

wickedyz
18 March 2006, 05:08
I flew several times with a head cold, it is a bad idea. Also had problems equalizing while diving, you don't want to screw your ears up: major pain. You might have allergies or something else that is preventing you from doing it. Go see a doctor that is not in the military, you may have a cyst or something else blocking the tubes. Hope it helps.

sawbones
18 March 2006, 09:57
Sharky, did the same thing about ten years ago diving a wreck in Lake Erie. SUCKED! Amen to the thought of the ice pick.

I must have a bad memory or am completely stupid, flew to Phoenix and back two weeks ago with a sinus infection. L ear has been sccrewed since.

zogorion
18 March 2006, 12:43
I appreciate all the responses. Going to my doctor is at the top of my 'to-do' list for when I get back to the states.

JOE-BOO
18 March 2006, 18:05
Ruptured mine at MCD in PC, FL when I got hit in the ear by an instructor's elbow during some harassment at 12 feet. Kept diving for a while...pretty cool when I tried to clear under water bubbles came out of my ear. Training kicked in though after the harassment I was pretty discombobulated from the rupture to say the least and in a shit load of pain, but I did what I was taught and recovered my tanks and got the air flowing again. Nice to know that the training sinks in that deep into you brain and I did not bolt to the surface further worsening matters.

mumiitroll
12 December 2006, 20:30
Yeah, I made the mistake of flying with a bad head cold. No problem going up, but blew my left eardrum out coming down. I had blood trickling out of my ear. That's generally a bad thing. It literally felt like someone was sticking an icepick in my ear. The worst part was that there aint a damn thing you can do about it but ride it out. The pain was......exquisite.

Hi, do you have any tips on how to deal with ear problems?? did you go on a normal civilian passenger flight or was it something military like in a fighter jet? I've never had blood out of my ears, but i sadly get ear infections quiet often. Chances of ear infection increase exponentially for me after flying or after swimming on a windy beach. Also i've never tried to dive, so i dont even know if i can equalize. A swimming pool here has depth of 13ft and it doesnt really bother me, though i feel the pressure, even more so in my eyes on the goggles, but if i have a mild ear infection, it makes it worse. To what depth should you make a freedive to test whether you can equalize(if you cant, you'll notice and turn around before hurting yourself?)

I also noticed that if i go swimming in the pool and on the way out wear a tight ski hat, my ears are always dry and never get any infections, while without a hat i take my chances by drying them with my t-shirt or a towel, if they're not completely dry, i'm screwed.

SunWho
16 December 2006, 00:43
You dont really know what pain is until you have blown out an eardrum because you couldn't equalize. BTDT.

Never experienced it myself, but I've heard a story from an old frog that was in a sub chamber doing a lock-out and the hatch was opened BEFORE they equalized the inside pressure with the pressure outside the sub! :eek: OUCH! Needless to say a few eardrums were blown on that one.

jw
16 December 2006, 08:55
You dont really know what pain is until you have blown out an eardrum because you couldn't equalize. BTDT.

Had this happen diving MK 16 in Norway. Now you have 38 degree water shooting in. Let the roller coaster begin.

Johan
18 December 2006, 15:58
If congestion, the common mistake is to 'blow' nose. This is very bad. Clear nose, but force congestion further into sinus and other cavity as well.

Rule is "suck up and spit out".

Also, afrin is good for emergency. Very quick action. Good friend of mine was German Navy Commando. Explain that one time he suffer reverse block as he begin to ascend after dive. Take afrin under water and wait for some minutes, and is able to force clear for ascent where before afrin he can generate no 'activity' to equalize pressure. I have no similar experience under water, but have used afrin in time critical situation and has allowed me to fly.

Pinch nose and blow to equalize is last and most aggresive technique. Also remember that muscle and tissue that allow equalization are like other muscle and tissue in body. With practice, they become better at job and fatigue/shut down more slowly. Some person who rarely must equalize, ability to equalize will end after 20 equalization in 2 hour. Person who must do this all the time, will be able to equalize with less work, and equalize more in given period of time without detrimental effect.

Dutch8654
18 December 2006, 16:10
Also, afrin is good for emergency. Very quick action. Good friend of mine was German Navy Commando. Explain that one time he suffer reverse block as he begin to ascend after dive. Take afrin under water and wait for some minutes, and is able to force clear for ascent where before afrin he can generate no 'activity' to equalize pressure. I have no similar experience under water, but have used afrin in time critical situation and has allowed me to fly.


I know the Docs always passed around the Afrin spray before a dive but never remember them telling anyone to take it down with you. Are you saying to use the spray once you stop then administer the spray underwater. Then continue up once able to equalize?

Johan
18 December 2006, 16:11
A swimming pool here has depth of 13ft and it doesnt really bother me, though i feel the pressure, even more so in my eyes on the goggles, but if i have a mild ear infection, it makes it worse. To what depth should you make a freedive to test whether you can equalize(if you cant, you'll notice and turn around before hurting yourself?)

No goggles on eyes if you are diving 2+ meter. You can injure eye as there is no way to equalize pressure between air pocket on eye and outside this pocket.

Also equalize before pressure is felt. When you actually begin to feel pressure, differential is already near risk level. Equalize constantly when you know you will have change in pressure. "Stay ahead of curve" in a way.

Johan
18 December 2006, 16:16
I know the Docs always passed around the Afrin spray before a dive but never remember them telling anyone to take it down with you. Are you saying to use the spray once you stop then administer the spray underwater. Then continue up once able to equalize?

I cannot comment with authority on practice. According to my friend, he signal his "buddy" that reverse block affects him. Afrin is brought to him, he take this while under water and then wait. After .5 hours, he is able to force clear where before he is pinch+blow clear but it is like cement in his head.

Also to remember, he is commando diver. I do not know if all are capable of effectively taking afrin while submerge. I have performed scuba dive on vacation, I would not be proficient in taking afrin under water I think.

sarc88
21 December 2006, 02:52
SDiver has given great advice on stretching out the Etubes. The other bit is practice. The more you move your TM's, the more mobile they will become. After a few months on bends watch, I never even opened my mouth; it seemed like blinking my eyes would clear them. Unfortunately, you'll have to drive up and down a mountain to get that effect - but if you can get the altitude changes, do it.

Please consider the advice on "faking it" seriously!! Like my esteemed brothers here, I've tried it, watched my students try it, etc etc....Atmosphere Absolute will absolutely win every time.

Note on inhaling Afrin while submerged: BS flag THROWN!
A) Reverse squeeze is a bottom problem, noted only when the diver begins to ascend. Divers are NEVER taught to clear on ascent (not even the "Commando Divers") because it will cause huge problems. Expanding gas escapes no matter what. Clearing, or "staying ahead of the pressure", is only performed on descent (during ascent, pressure is being RELIEVED). We breathe normally on ascent, no valsalva - ever. If expansion problems are encountered, ascent is halted, diver descends, THEN attempts to clear.

B) Hmmmm inhaling medication up the snout while submerged.....need I say more? How about the 30min waiting for effect...what are the rest of the guys doing?

Johan
21 December 2006, 04:08
Note on inhaling Afrin while submerged: BS flag THROWN!
A) Reverse squeeze is a bottom problem, noted only when the diver begins to ascend. Divers are NEVER taught to clear on ascent (not even the "Commando Divers") because it will cause huge problems. Expanding gas escapes no matter what. Clearing, or "staying ahead of the pressure", is only performed on descent (during ascent, pressure is being RELIEVED). We breathe normally on ascent, no valsalva - ever. If expansion problems are encountered, ascent is halted, diver descends, THEN attempts to clear.

B) Hmmmm inhaling medication up the snout while submerged.....need I say more? How about the 30min waiting for effect...what are the rest of the guys doing?

I cannot answer detailed questions you pose. But I will attempt to contact my old friend if you desire.

Please understand that if there is some technical aspect that seems incorrect, I am not military trained diver and am relating story from military trained diver. My translation may very well be the problem.

I do not think he would have cause to tell me false story about this. He did not seem to think story is remarkable, I think it remarkable however. :) He is like all of few other Soldier I have spoken to from special units. Not talk at all unless there is reason, and then talk very little, and usually talk is telling silly story.

He sees my afrin, and comment on its effectiveness. And as joke says "It will even function under water!". Then I make him tell me story. This was some years ago, but I believe I can track him down. He served as combat diver in German military, I believe he finish his military service in 1994 or 1995.

Kalanis
23 December 2006, 19:16
I never heard of the afrin one, but in dive school, we took 8 psudafeds before the night before and a couple the morning of the dives in pool and qual week. I grew up diving breath hold and learning valsalva when i was a kid, so I never have a problem except when ive had a sinus cold.

And like going up in an airplane, you dont blow to equalize ascent, you chew. The only ascent squeeze Ive heard of is air expanding in a bad filling and poping it off. Very unhappy face. I married a dental hygienist.