Valsava maneuver to compensate for the pressure inside themiddle ear.How to perform the technique and useful tips.
When it comes tounderwater compensationthereValsalva maneuverit is among the most used techniques.
Valsalva maneuver to compensate for ear
ThereValsalva maneuverserves tocompensatemiddle ear pressure with the environmental pressure in scuba diving, when the diver is faced with sudden changes in external pressure.
Perhaps, if you've ever read some anatomy textbooks ... you may be wondering, why is it necessary to compensate the middle ear in particular? Therecompensation, in fact, it is implemented automatically by the lungs: the air contained in the lungs tends to reach all the cavities of our body by performing aspontaneous compensation. Trachea, larange, frontal sinuses, paranasal sinuses…. all the cavities of our body in contact with the outside receive air from the lungs and compensate each other in a completely autonomous way without risking any damage.
Why doesn't this happen with the ear? Yet even this component of the body is connected to the lungs through the respiratory system ... themiddle ear compensationit does not happen due to a structure that prevents the air entering from the inside, the Eustachian tube. This channel is particularly narrow and causes the air coming from the lungs to failcompensatespontaneously and therefore it is necessary to implement detailsmaneuversforcompensate–then reach the equivalent environmental pressure-the pressure from the outside.
Valsalva maneuver: how to do it
ThereValsalva maneuverit is certainly the simplest to apply but it is not the only one and it is certainly not the safest as it could cause syncope for those who go free diving.
How is the Valsalva maneuver performed?
It is easy to learn, in fact, to perform it you just need to contract the muscles of the abdomen and, after having plugged the nose with your fingers, you will have to act by forcing the tubes so as to introduce air into the middle ear.
- Contract the abdominal muscles to achieve an increase in intra-abdominal and thoracic pressure by emptying the viscera.
To help you, in practical terms, contract the abdomen by exhaling - blowing air out - for 5 seconds
- Plug your nose
- Force the tubes to introduce air into the middle ear
You will need to act by operating the soft palate with a movement similar to swallowing.
This maneuver is mainly used by divers during the descent to compensate for the increase in pressure in the ear and protect the tympanic membrane.
The instructions I have given you are illustrative only, it is advisable to learn this technique from an expert diver or directly from a cardiologist. Cardiologists teach this technique to patients with paroxysmal tachycardia crises, among other things, in fact, theValsalva maneuverstimulates the vagus nerves that innervate the lungs, causing parasympathetic vagal stimulation that results in a slowing of the heart rate, useful in patients suffering from paroxysmal tachycardia.
ThereValsalva maneuverfinds other applications: to stimulate defection in babies (by coughing) or to facilitate birth during childbirth.
Alternatives to Valsalva: the Marcante-Odaglia maneuver or the Frenzel maneuver
This technique ofcompensationit is mainly used in diving. Internationally it is known asFrenzel maneuverhere in Italy it is known above all asMarcante-Odaglia maneuver, without going into the merits of the attributions, it is only important to understand that theFrenzel maneuverand theMarcante-Odaglia maneuverthey are the same thing and make fundamental improvements to theValsalva maneuver.
This technique ofcompensationit is more difficult to learn but just a little practice and a good teacher. How you do it? Always on an illustrative level and always referring to the skill of an insider, I tell you that thismaneuverit is performed by exploiting the closure of the lower and upper respiratory tract so as not to stress the lungs.
You will have to push the tongue towards the throat (the tongue will have to close the connection with the lungs) and carry out a movement similar to swallowing and immediately after, push the tongue upwards (towards the soft palate) so as to exert a pressure push towards the 'middle ear. While the lower airways are closed with the tongue, the upper airways are closed with the fingers (i.e. you will have to plug your nose just as seen for the Valsalva maneuver).