Although swimming is often the cause, you can get water trapped in your ear canal from any exposure to water. If this happens, you may feel a tickling sensation in your ear. This feeling may extend to your jawbone or throat. You may also not be able to hear as well or only hear muffled sounds.
Usually, the water drains out on its own. If it doesn’t, the trapped water may lead to an ear infection. This type of ear infection in the external auditory canal of your outer ear is called swimmer’s ear.
It’s not hard to get water out of your ear on your own. These 12 tips can help.
If water gets trapped in your ear, you can try several at-home remedies for relief:
1. Jiggle your earlobe
This first method may shake the water out of your ear right away.
Gently tug or jiggle your earlobe while tilting your head in a downward motion toward your shoulder.
You can also try shaking your head from side to side while in this position.
2. Make gravity do the work
With this technique, gravity should help the water drain from your ear.
Lie on your side for a few minutes, with your head on a towel to absorb the water. The water may slowly drain out of your ear.
3. Create a vacuum
This method will create a vacuum that may draw the water out.
- Tilt your head sideways, and rest your ear onto your cupped palm, creating a tight seal.
- Gently push your hand back and forth toward your ear in a rapid motion, flattening it as you push and cupping it as you pull away.
- Tilt your head down to allow the water to drain.
4. Use a blow dryer
The heat from a blow dryer can help evaporate the water inside your ear canal.
- Turn on your blow dryer to its lowest setting.
- Hold the hair dryer about a foot away from your ear and move it in a back-and-forth motion.
- While tugging down on your earlobe, let the warm air blow into your ear.
5. Try alcohol and vinegar eardrops
Alcohol can help evaporate the water in your ear. It also works to eliminate the growth of bacteria, which can help prevent infection. If the trapped water occurs due to earwax buildup, the vinegar may help remove it.
- Combine equal parts alcohol and vinegar to make eardrops.
- Using a sterile dropper, apply three or four drops of this mixture into your ear.
- Gently rub the outside of your ear.
- Wait 30 seconds, and tilt your head sideways to let the solution drain out.
Don’t use this method if you have any of these conditions:
6. Use hydrogen peroxide eardrops
Hydrogen peroxide solutions can help clear debris and earwax, which may be trapping water in your ear. You can find eardrops online that use a combination of urea and hydrogen peroxide, called carbamide peroxide, to unclog earwax in the ears.
Don’t use this method if you have any of these conditions:
- signs of injury or infection such as pain, swelling, warmth, drainage, bleeding from ear
- a middle ear infection
- a perforated eardrum
- tympanostomy tubes (eardrum tubes)
7. Try olive oil
Olive oil can also help prevent infection in your ear, as well as repel water out.
- Warm some olive oil in a small bowl. Place a few drops on your inner wrist to test the temperature.
- Using a clean dropper, place a few drops of the oil into the affected ear.
- Lie on your other side for about 10 minutes, and then sit up and tilt the ear downward. The water and oil should drain out.
8. Try more water
This technique may sound illogical, but it can actually help draw water out of your ear.
- Lying on your side, fill the affected ear with water using a clean dropper.
- Wait 5 seconds and then turn over, with the affected ear facing down. All of the water should drain out.
9. Take over-the-counter medication
A number of over-the-counter (OTC) eardrops are also available. Most are alcohol-based and can help reduce moisture in your outer ear canal, as well as kill bacteria or remove earwax and debris.
10. Yawn or chew
When water gets stuck in your eustachian tubes, moving your mouth can sometimes help to open the tubes.
Yawn or chew gum to relieve tension in your eustachian tubes.
11. Perform the Valsalva maneuver
This method can also help open closed eustachian tubes. Be careful not to blow too hard. This can damage your ear drum.
- Breathe deeply. Then close your mouth and gently squeeze your nostrils shut with your fingers.
- Slowly blow the air out of your nose. If you hear a popping sound, it means the eustachian tubes have opened.
12. Use steam
Warm steam can help release water from your middle ear through your eustachian tubes. Try taking a hot shower or giving yourself a mini sauna with a bowl of hot water.
- Fill a large bowl with steaming hot water.
- Cover your head with a towel to keep the steam in, and hold your face over the bowl.
- Inhale the steam for 5 or 10 minutes, and then tilt your head to the side to drain your ear.
If at-home remedies aren’t working, don’t resort to using ear swabs, your finger, or any other object to dig inside of your ear. Doing this may make matters worse by:
- adding bacteria to the area
- pushing the water deeper into your ear
- injuring your ear canal
- puncturing your eardrum
These simple tips can help prevent water from getting stuck in your ear in the future.
- Use earplugs or a swim cap when you go swimming.
- After spending time immersed in water, thoroughly dry the outside of your ear with a towel.
Trapped water usually goes away without treatment. If it bothers you, consider trying one of these home treatments to help relieve your discomfort. But if the water is still trapped after 2 to 3 days or if you show signs of infection, you should call your doctor.
If your ear becomes inflamed or swollen, you may have developed an ear infection. An ear infection can become serious if you don’t get treatment for it. It may lead to hearing loss or other complications, such as cartilage and bone damage.
Your doctor can prescribe medications to eliminate infection and relieve pain.
How to prevent this problem These simple tips will help prevent water from entering your ear in the future. Of course, if you’ve never had water in your ears, you won’t need any of these tricks. To keep water out of your ears after swimming or showering (or carnage in the kiddie pool), try the following tricks. If the above methods don’t work, you can try using a hair dryer to disperse the water from your ear canal.
So not only can you send water deeper into your ear, you can also use it to compress earwax into your ear canal or even pierce your eardrum. Gently injure the affected ear from above and turn your head, the water will easily come out by itself. Place the affected ear on the underside of the palm of your hand and gently press on the ear with the palm of your hand until water starts to flow out. Gently press and release your hand to your ear, which will act as suction to draw out the water.
After performing this method, the head must be tilted to the side to allow water to drain from the ear. Just use gravity – tilt your head to one side and lightly tap your head on the top side – this should help push the water out of your ear canal. To get rid of the water, a good solution is to tilt your head towards the ear where the water accumulates and jump on one foot, keeping your head tilted. Tilt your head down to get water into your ear, grasp your earlobe and shake it gently to try to remove the water.
Try lying on the ground with your ears facing the floor; tilt your head, shake your earlobes, and use a cotton swab to (gently) remove water from your ears. To help draw water out of your ears, create a vacuum by tilting your head to one side and placing your ears on the cupped palms to create an airtight seal. Gently and comfortably wipe the outside of the ear with a towel or soft cloth, tilting the ear toward the cloth to allow the glass and remaining water to drain.
Drying thoroughly and rocking your head from side to side after getting out of the water can also help get water out of your ears. Yawning or chewing can also help move water out of the ear canal by creating pressure in the middle ear and stretching the ear canal. Close your mouth, pinch your nose, and blow your nose with light pressure—this is a great way to equalize the pressure in your ears, allowing the water to drain.
Just like your ears pop open when you chew gum on an airplane, chewing or yawning can help dissolve water from your Eustachian tubes. Sometimes water can get into the Eustachian tubes (which connect the middle ear to the area just behind the nostrils).
Being trapped is not the same as entering the ear canal after swimming or bathing, although both conditions can cause similar symptoms. If not cleared properly, stuck water can cause swimmers’ ears, surfers’ ears, and other conditions that can cause painful infections and side effects, including hearing loss. Nothing beats a cool, refreshing soak on a hot, humid day, but sometimes water can get in and get stuck in the ear canal, causing painful infections and possibly even hearing loss.
Water activities are a great way to combat heat and humidity, but if you’re not careful, water can get into your ears and become trapped, causing an infection. While splashing around in the pool is a great way to beat the heat and have fun for kids and adults alike, getting water stuck in your ears isn’t all that scary. It goes without saying that it is important to remove as much water from the ears as possible to avoid these complications.
Placing a warm washcloth behind your ear can reduce any swelling that may occur and change the way water flows around your ear. It may also be helpful to use other methods after the ears have warmed, such as yawning or pulling the ears to promote further drainage. Tips for Removing Water from the Ears There are various methods that people can try to help drain water from the ear or clear fluid buildup in the ear.
If stuck water remains in the ear even after several days of trying the following methods, be sure to get an ENT. If none of these tips work and you still have fluid in your ear, see your doctor to avoid further complications. If it’s clear to you that the discomfort you’re experiencing in your ear is because you’ve retained water, ask your pharmacist for certain medicines that can help remove water.
See your Doctor
In addition to discomfort, if water remains in the ear for a longer period of time, it can lead to inflammation of the ear canal and cause an ear infection, especially a fungal ear infection. Leave it in your ear for a minute or two before tilting your head to let the liquid drain out. Turn on the hair dryer, hold it slightly away from your ear, and let it dry until you feel the water inside your ear dry up.
Using a sterile dropper, put two to three drops of the cleaning solution into your ear and wipe it out of your ear. You have to be careful not to push the fabric inside the ear or it will give the water more room to get in. If gravity and motion don’t work, you can try rinsing the ear with a 50/50 mixture of denatured alcohol and white vinegar, using an eye dropper or a small syringe, Dr. Thompson says.
water ear canal head ears hair dryer affected ear blow dryer hydrogen peroxide earlobe eustachian tubes head sideways side ear drops yawn technique rubbing alcohol warm compress hot compress lowest setting alcohol use outer ear heat therapy home remedies part vinegar homemade solution vinegar cupped palm let gravity white vinegar effective ways use hydrogen half cup vacuum
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