What is mask squeeze?

Like the air spaces in your sinuses and ears, you must also equalize the air space in your mask as you descend. When you descend, failure to equalize, or add air to the air space in the mask, by exhaling through your nose can create unequal pressure between the mask air space and the vascular pressure within the blood vessels of the face. This can result in various degrees of facial barotrauma, or injury to the soft tissues of your face contained within the mask. Imagine your face in a suction cup. The soft tissues beneath the mask and especially around the eye swell (periorbital edema) and discolor, such as redness or bruising (ecchymosis).

What treatment do I need?

Unless you are experiencing eye pain or visual problems, there is no treatment for facial barotrauma except time. Because it is a bruise, your body will eventually reabsorb the effect of your mask squeeze. Your physician or an eye specialist should address eye pain or visual disturbances such as blurred vision or loss of part of the visual field immediately. These symptoms would be extremely rare in mask squeeze, however. The signs and symptoms of mask squeeze can take up to two weeks or more to resolve. Unfortunately, it is one of those conditions where you will probably look worse than you’d like before it gets better. Not only will blood and edema need to be reabsorbed, but it tends to be gravity-dependent – which means it will spread downward on your face. Before you heal, you may look like a red-eyed black-and-blue marked creature in a B-grade horror flick or a boxer that took at least two too many punches.

Who gets mask squeeze?

Mostly new divers get squeezed – they tend to be overwhelmed by all the skills they need to remember, such as buoyancy control and equalizing their ears and sinuses, all while being mesmerized by the mysteries of the sea. More experienced divers, however, are not immune to mask squeeze. They tend to have mask squeeze when they are concentrating on some new activity or focused in on a task which diverts their attention from clearing their mask. Changing to a new mask or to a low-volume mask may also lead to mask squeeze, because the diver may not be accustomed to when to add air. Finally, poor-fitting masks or other issues such as facial hair may lead to problems with equalizing.

How do you prevent mask squeeze from happening again?

The solution to preventing mask squeeze is to remember to keep your nasal passageways open during descent. By exhaling through your nose and using a properly fitted mask, you will minimize the risk of facial barotrauma. A mask should fit comfortably against your face and you should be able to achieve an appropriate seal by gently placing the mask on your face and inhaling through your nose. The mask should seal to your face and not fall off even without the mask strap in place. It is not unusual for a small amount of leakage to occur while diving, especially if you have facial hair. Exhaling through your nose and tilting your face towards the surface while cracking the lower seal of the mask will generally remove any unwanted water from your mask.

reprinted from www.diversalertnetwork.org



You know, when I was asked to write a short bit about divers staying hydrated, I said, sure I’d be glad to. Should be pretty straightforward, given that we, from the time we first took a dive course, are reminded to stay hydrated as a preventive measure, not the least of which is to not contribute to DCS. Then I dug out a few textbooks from my days as a firefighter/EMT. My next immediate thought was “how do I keep this under a page or two?”

Let’s set aside for the moment the fact that we are divers, and being hydrated is important. First, let’s look at some very basic facts that will help to understand the how and why we need to stay hydrated and what comprises Dehydration. Simply put, dehydration is a condition in which we lose body fluid, mostly water, and that loss exceeds the amount of water we take in.

How do we lose water? Merely by living, we lose water through exhalation, urinating and sweating. Then add to this exercise or activity (diving), and we lose even more. Should we be ill with fever or diarrhea (as in “don’t drink the water”), the deficit grows substantially. How can we recognize dehydration? Some of the signs and symptoms of mild dehydration include, obviously, being thirsty (more on this in a bit), perhaps feeling tired and darker yellow tinted urine would be an indicator as well. It’s estimated that these signs and symptoms occur with only around a 1-1 ½ % loss. That isn’t much. While it really is outside the scope of our discussion here, losses that approach 4-5% become very serious and require immediate attention.

One of the negative aspects of being dehydrated, especially as divers, is that it can be a contributing factor to decompression sickness. When we consider that traveling divers spend time on airplanes, which is an extremely dry environment and the possibility of increased alcohol intake, which leads to dehydration, it doesn’t take too much thought to realize that one must increase the fluid intake to compensate for fluid loss. Keep in mind that improper fluids, such as alcoholic beverages, do not hydrate the body very well. It has been often said in the past that coffee and tea….or caffeinated beverages were considered diuretics and contributed to fluid loss. The debate is still ongoing in regards to this.

Signs and symptoms of mild dehydration include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepy or tired during daytime
  • Decreased urination

And of course, being thirsty. If you find yourself at this point, being extremely thirsty, you’ve waited too long for that drink of water.

How do we become dehydrated? In addition to not drinking enough water, other contributing factors include increased activity, climate change, such as traveling to warm water diving locations, increased alcohol intake and illness such as vomiting or diarrhea, perhaps from food or water while traveling.

So, how do we hydrate? Well, yeah… drink some water. How much? As mentioned previously, if you’re extremely thirsty, you’ve waited too long to rehydrate. The best water intake is gradual over time, sustaining a nice balance with an increase of water intake with increased activity (diving). We’ve often heard of the “8 by 8” rule which suggests the average adult drink 8 eight ounce glasses of water per day, for a total of 64 ounces of water intake. Recently however, the Mayo Clinic is advocating an intake of 3 liters/101 ounces for men and 2.2 liters/74 ounces for women. Environment, as well as activity, will also impact how much water you should be drinking.

Another source of fluids can be so-called sports drinks, keeping in mind that we should take notice of the nutritional information label to avoid excessive sugar and sodium. In addition to liquids, we also derive hydration from the foods we eat. Fruits and vegetables can contribute up to 35% of daily fluid intake.

Staying hydrated as we enjoy diving is easy, makes sense and will contribute to having a great experience. In fact, why not throw your drinking bottle in your gear bag and make it part of your equipment check list as you prepare for the next dive or dive trip?

reprinted from  www.tdisdi.com from January 7th, 2013



The days of group trips; meeting new divers, that shared excitement, adventure, fulfillment; are giving way to rock bottom pricing.  In the days of ‘Expedia’ and ‘Priceline’ consumers are going it alone.  Some are getting great deals, others just think they are.  Many have never experienced the fun and social aspects of group travel.

Think back to an activity you enjoyed with a group, such as going to a concert.  I don’t mean the Philharmonic, I’m talking about the last big country, rock or R&B show you attended.  Yes, it’s great to have that one on one time with your special someone, but tailgating before the show, everyone singing FreeeeeeBiiiiiiird for 12 minutes, and carrying the excitement out into the parking lot together afterward!  The enthusiasm and excitement is contagious.  This group dynamic is the main appeal to traveling with like-minded friends.

Sure there are those bad experiences, bad weather, delayed flights, that one group member who just seems to get on everyone’s nerves, but those things also happen when you go it alone and a good trip leader knows how to ease tensions and always has plans B, C, & D up his sleeve.  You might be surprised how competitively priced these trips can be and you get the added benefit of an experienced trip director who is usually familiar with the destination.

We had a blast in Turks & Caicos last month and are looking forward to great diving in Roatan, Honduras in March.  We have a few spots left, so make your spring break vacation plans now.

March 9 – 16, 2013         Roatan, Honduras      $1425     unlimited diving, all-inclusive resort

For additional information on these featured trips and others call Gulf Coast Divers at (251) 342-2970.