As the chamber is being pressurized, air presses on your eardrums and pushes them inwards. This pressure feels similar to the pressure that you feel in your ears when you are flying in an airplane. The majority of people (90%) automatically and easily adjust to these pressure changes, while reporting no adverse effects. If you are in the 10% minority, then the only problem that you may experience with this is either discomfort or pain in your ears or sinuses, similar to that which you would feel if you were congested while landing from an airplane. The only difference is that you ‘cannot tell the pilot on an airplane to stop’. In the case of HBOT, we would encourage you to signal or radio the attendant immediately if you have discomfort in your ears or sinuses. Don’t wait until it really hurts. The attendant will stop pressurizing and decrease the pressure until you are comfortable and able to equalize the pressure. When you’re comfortable the attendant will resume pressurizing. Our attendants are well experienced at dealing with these cases and are willing to work with you as required. Here are some techniques in helping to equalize your ears:

• Try to swallow; yawn or drink sips of water. Turn your head to one side and swallow, then turn to the other side and swallow. Repeat if necessary.

• The Valsalva Maneuver – Pinch your nose closed, close your mouth and lift the front-tip of your tongue towards the roof of your mouth. Attempt to blow through your pinched nose (short and sharp) but not too forcefully. This directs air from your throat into your ears and sinus air passages.

• A third method combines these techniques: try swallowing and wiggling your jaw while blowing gently against your pinched nose. Now that’s coordination!

• If you have a history of problems with the ear when flying or traveling in the mountains you may wish to use nasal decongestants before the first few treatments. With young children tilt their head back and you can put one drop of pediatric (baby) nose drops in each nostril one and a half to two hours before HBOT. Wait 5-10 min. and then put a second drop in each nostril. You can use Afrin or a similar nasal spray 20-30 minutes after the nose drops. Do not repeat the nasal spray.