HOW PRESSURE CHANGE AFFECTS DIVERS
Pressure changes affect different parts of a diver’s body, though most significantly, the air spaces. The force of walking against a strong wind demonstrates how air exerts a pressure. Our bodies are mostly liquid and ‘in-compressible’, which is why we do not normally feel the effects of this force. However, we also have air-filled spaces such as our lungs, sinus, and ears. They usually balance with the surrounding pressure, which is 1 bar ata at sea level.
Air is compressible, but we generally do not notice this when pressures inside and outside of our bodies are balanced. Consider the changes in ambient pressure when flying or driving through a mountain region. The air volume changes in our air spaces and we often feel this in our ears and sinuses.
When a diver submerges, the water pressure also exerts a force. Because water is heavier and denser than air, the force has a much greater effect. Ascend or descend just a meter and you will notice some changes affecting your air spaces. These changes in pressure have some associated problems for scuba divers, mostly related to equalization.
How Pressure Change Causes Barotraumas
You can avoid ear barotraumas if you use proper equalization techniques, especially during the descent.