5 ways to get rid of water stuck in the ear

Water may remain in the ear after swimming, showering, or other activities that allow water to enter the ear canal. In general, water drains naturally from the ear. However, if the water does not drain, it can lead to an infection of the outer ear, called swimmer’s ear. A person who has water trapped in the ear may feel a tickle or itch that spreads from the ear to the jaw or throat. She may also have hearing problems, including muffled sounds. In general, the water evacuates itself thanks to the structure of the ear and the cerumen which repels the water. However, sometimes it is necessary to resort to home remedies to treat clogged ears.

Here are six tips for removing water from the ear safely, along with what to avoid, preventions, risks, and when to see a doctor.

Tips for removing water from the ear

One can try different things to help drain water from the ear or remove debris that is trapping fluid in the ear. Applying one or more of the following tips may help resolve the issue. Experts recommend not inserting foreign objects into the ear canals. This can cause injury or make earwax buildup worse by pushing it deeper into the canal. If the problem worsens or persists for a few days, a doctor should be consulted even after trying these methods.

1. Displacement of the earlobe

Many people instinctively move or pull their earlobe when water seeps into their ears. Lying on your side and staying still for a few minutes can help fluid drain from the ear. Tilt your head so that the affected ear is facing down. Hold the earlobe with your thumb behind the ear and gently pull the ear, shaking it in all directions. This can help shake up the inside of the ear and create a path for trapped water to drain out. It may also be helpful to wiggle the deeper parts of the ear during this process. Try yawning, wiggling your jaw, or making exaggerated chewing movements with your mouth to help move water to the outer canal, then tug on your earlobe to complete the process.

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If a person feels pain when pulling the earlobe, it is a sign of infection and it is time to see a doctor. The doctor may prescribe medicated drops to clear up the infection if this is the underlying cause. In addition to ear drops, some doctors in the United States may perform ear toilets. This involves inserting a thin instrument with a small ring into the ear to clean it.

2. Create a void

It is possible to use the palms of the hands to exert a reverse pressure in the ear and suck the water. Tilt your head to the side so that the affected ear is facing down. Place the hand around the ear, so that the palm covers most of the ear and ear canal. Push the palm of the hand towards the ear, lightly pressing the ear into the head, then pulling it out again. The palm of the hand should flatten as it sinks into the ear and close as it withdraws. The person should feel a suction and release in the ear during this activity. After doing this several times, tilt your head down to allow the liquid to flow out. It may help to shake the earlobe again to get the water out.

3. Application of a warm compress

Soak a towel or washcloth in hot water and squeeze out the excess water. Make sure the towel is not too hot, as this could cause burning or irritation in the ear. A warm compress can help relax the tissues of the ear and decongest the area. Fold the towel and tilt your head, resting your ear on the compress. Stay like this for several minutes, letting the heat relax the ear and promote drainage. It may also be helpful to use other techniques after warming the ear, such as yawning or pulling on the ear to promote drainage.

4. Evaporation of trapped water

Some people may choose to evaporate the extra water present in the ear canal using air from a hair dryer. To do this, lay your head on a towel or pillow, with the affected ear facing the hair dryer. Put the hair dryer on the lowest setting and hold the device at least 30 cm from the head. Pull the earlobe to open and direct more air into the ear. Be sure to perform this operation in a clean room, free of dust, hair or other debris that could be thrown into the ear. Make sure the device is far enough away that air pressure or motor sound won’t damage the delicate structures of the ear.

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5. Home remedies

Alcohol and vinegar can work together to help remove moisture and debris from the ear. Alcohol can help evaporate water. Alcohol and vinegar can also help kill bacteria in the ear and break down earwax or any other buildup blocking the ear. Prepare a solution from a mixture of equal parts rubbing alcohol and white vinegar. Once mixed, tilt your head with the affected ear up and apply a few drops into the ear. Gently rub the outside of the ear, working the liquid in. Leave the liquid in the ear for about 30 seconds, then let it drain onto a towel or into the sink. Clean and dry the outer ear.

People who have ear problems, such as an ear infection, ruptured eardrum, or open cuts in the ear should not use this trick.
You can also use warm olive oil to prevent ear infections and drain water from the ear. Place a few drops of the oil directly into the ear and lie on your side for several minutes. Sit down, tilt your head and let the liquid drain out.
To learn more about removing earwax at home, click here.

What not to do to drain water from the ear

There are some general tips to consider in getting water out of the ear.
There are some things not to do, including:

– introduce objects into the ear canal, such as cotton swabs, paper clips or hairpins
– put fingers or nails in the ears
– place a hair dryer, fan or other device that blows air into the ear very close to the ear, as the noise or pressure can damage the delicate structures of the ear.

Prevent water from getting trapped

General tips to prevent water from remaining in the ear are as follows

– wear a cap, earplugs or earmolds when bathing or swimming
– avoid immersing your head in water
– use a dry towel to clean the outside of the ears after getting out of the water
– avoid using earbuds or headphones for prolonged periods when sweating, for example during a strenuous workout.
– talk with a doctor about regular earwax buildup and ways to keep your ears clear.

However, the safest, most reliable and affordable treatment is to plug the ear with earplugs when showering to create a waterproof barrier. People who participate in water sports, swim or are frequently in water can wear earplugs. Drying off thoroughly and shaking your head from side to side after getting out of the water can also help drain water from your ears.

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Risks related to the presence of water in the ear

If water stays in the ear for too long, a person can develop an infection. Infection usually occurs when bacteria in the ear or water have a perfect place to grow, causing the body to react which causes symptoms. The risk of getting swimmer’s ear (acute otitis externa) is higher if you swim in water with a high bacteria content, such as a lake. Swimming pools and spas are generally safer, as they usually have rules regarding regular monitoring of bacteria and pH levels. The risk of developing swimmer’s ear also increases in people who already have a chronic skin condition affecting the ear, such as psoriasis or eczema.

The ear has several defense mechanisms to protect itself from infection, but certain problems can create the perfect conditions for an infection, including

– excessive moisture in the ear
– scrapes or cuts in the ear canal
– allergies to hair products or jewelry
Some doctors recommend people with swimmer’s ear to wear earplugs when swimming and to dry their ears thoroughly with a hair dryer or towel after swimming.

Infection and other complications
If an infection develops, affected individuals may experience severe itching and increasing pain. The ear may become too painful to touch. There may also be a discharge of fluid or pus. A severe infection can lead to fever, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and pain in the face, neck, or side of the head. In some people, ear infections are recurrent (chronic otitis externa) and temporary hearing loss may occur. When the infection clears, hearing usually improves. In rare cases, untreated swimmer’s ear can lead to bone and cartilage damage, or malignant otitis externa. In some cases, untreated ear infections can spread to the base of the skull or the cranial nerves. To assess swimmer’s ear, the doctor will look for redness and swelling in the ear canal and ask if the patient is experiencing any pain.

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