Other Pressure Related Injuries
As you've already learned, two of the most important rules in scuba diving are "never hold your breath" and "equalize your ears early and often." Following these rules helps prevent injuries called barotraumas, which are injuries caused by pressure changes inside any of the body's air spaces.
Your lungs, ears, and sinuses aren't the only air spaces that are susceptible to barotrauma. Your digestive system, face, and in rare cases teeth can be damaged by changes in pressure. In this lesson, you'll learn about those pressure-related injuries and how to prevent them.
Your mask creates an air space in front of your face that can squeeze when pressure increases. You must prevent a squeeze by equalizing the pressure inside the mask as you descend.
Equalizing your mask is accomplished by exhaling a small amount of air through your nose, and this is why a nose pocket is required. Equalization usually happens automatically as you breathe, but if you feel pressure during descent you may need to consciously exhale through your nose to equalize the pressure.
Failure to equalize your mask can cause your eyes to become bloodshot. If this occurs, you should have your eyes examined by a doctor, and avoid diving until your eyes have healed.
Tooth Squeezes & Reverse Blocks
Air spaces can develop underneath defective fillings. This results in a squeeze that's impossible to equalize during descent. If you feel pressure in a tooth while diving, abort the dive and make an appointment to see a dentist.
If you ignore a tooth squeeze, the pressure may slowly equalize. This will cause a reverse block during ascent, and result in a loose filling or fractured tooth.
Digestive System Reverse Blocks
Gasses can form in your digestive system during a dive. Two common causes are excessive swallowing of air and gas producing foods. This can lead to belching, flatulence, or discomfort during ascent when the gasses expand. This situation is rarely serious, but if these symptoms occur, delay your ascent until the symptoms pass.
You can prevent digestive system problems by avoiding gas producing foods before a dive, minimizing the swallowing of air, and if necessary, taking anti-gas medications before a dive.