Water Pressure

Why do your ears hurt when you dive to the bottom of a swimming pool?

Just as the weight of the air above us creates atmospheric pressure, the weight of water creates liquid pressure. Close to the surface of a pool there is very little water that can push down and increase water pressure. The further a person dives below the surface, however, the greater the water pressure. The eardrums are especially sensitive to the increased pressure, for they do not have the reinforcement that the diver’s skin has. In fact, your eardrums can usually feel pressure when diving just 1.5 to 3 meters (5 to 10 feet) below the surface of the water.


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