The Frenzel Maneuver is named after Herman Frenzel (German ear, nose and throat physician and Luftwaffe commander). The maneuver was developed in 1938 and originally was taught to dive bomber pilots during World War II. The maneuver is used to equalize pressure in the middle ear. Today, the maneuver is also performed by scuba divers, free divers and by passengers on aircraft as they descend.
- the nose is pinched closed
- the tongue is placed on the roof of the mouth, as far forward as possible
- the back of the tongue is gently moved upward (as when starting to swallow) – often a click will be heard
- this is repeated as many times as necessary until equalization occurs.
By performing this, the back third of the tongue and "Adams Apple" will elevate causing the opening of the nasal cavities and eustachian tubes, thus allowing air into the middle ear and equalizing it to ambient air pressure.
This maneuver does not constrict the eustachian tubes, nor does it over-pressurize the middle or inner ear; it also leaves the hands free, if the nose pinch is omitted. The maneuver can be done at any time during the respiratory cycle and it does not inhibit venous return to the heart. Effort to perform the maneuver is minimal, and it can be repeated many times quickly.
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