To Blow or Not To Blow
One time while snorting in rough weather continually drawing full vacuums and then immediately breaking the vacuum when the swell went by, I was suffering from a cold with bad nasal congestion. I had a hard time clearing my ears, something I normally did naturally like most everyone else even in our sleep. I woke up suddenly one time in pain with tremendous pressure, "or was it vacuum", on my ears. I didn't know whether to suck or blow. So I gripped my nose and gave it my best blow.
Former Fleet Chief Petty Officer: Jim Gordon
Wrong. All of a sudden my right ear got warm and completely deaf. I had to endure a perforated eardrum in that situation for almost a week. It wouldn't heal and it certainly wasn't hygienic down there with that foul air just free flowing in and out of my head. that eventually healed but dropped my category dangerously close to the unfit sonar unfit submarine restrictions.
The term cloth ears was used to describe the effect that continuous vacuum pressure changes had on our eardrums. It had to stretch them out of shape a bit. Most of the old submariners I know have poor hearing and tinnitus. Damn, as soon as I typed that in my tinnitus started screaming at me. Funny how accustomed one can get to noise. It's usually somewhere back there where I don't notice it.