You don’t have to go swimming to end up with water trapped in your ear. Taking a shower or sweating a lot on a hot day, especially while wearing earbuds, is all it takes for a few drops of liquid to get stuck inside your ear canal. When that happens, you’ll feel a tickling sensation, the affected ear will feel clogged, and the sounds you hear will appear muffled.
In most cases, the water that gets stuck in your ear drains out on its own. Sometimes, however, it can stay stuck in there for days. It is thus important to know how to get water out of your ear safely.
What Are the Complications of Having Water in Your Ear?
Having water stuck in your ear for too long could lead to a serious infection. Otitis externa, also known as swimmer’s ear, occurs when bacteria invade your ear canal. Bacteria typically thrive in wet conditions, so they will start multiplying inside your ear, resulting in a potentially serious infection. Although swimmers and people with chronic skin conditions like psoriasis are more at risk, anyone can get swimmer’s ear.
The infection usually starts with slight redness, pain, and itching inside the ear, as well as some clear drainage from it. As swimmer’s ear progresses, the symptoms will intensify, eventually causing complete blockage of your ear canal and possibly resulting in temporary hearing loss. In most cases, the infection is successfully treated with eardrops. If you fail to do so or start treatment at an advanced stage of the condition, you could develop a chronic infection and risk damage to the cartilage and skull bones.
How to Get Water Out of Your Ear: 5 Things to Do
If water or sweat gets trapped in your ear, there are several tried and tested ways to get it out, thus reducing the risk of an outer ear infection. Here are five things that you can try for instant relief.
1. Tug Your Earlobe
While leaning your head down toward your shoulder hold your earlobe and gently tug it. If you have water stuck in your right ear, tilt your head toward the right shoulder. Tilt in the opposite direction if you have water in your left ear. In many cases, this should be enough to get the water out of the affected ear.
If this doesn’t work, lie on the affected side of the body, put a towel underneath your head, and let gravity do its magic. Over the next few minutes, the trapped water might gradually drain out of your ear.
2. Create a Vacuum
Sometimes you may need to create a vacuum to get water out of your ear. To do this, cup your palm over the affected ear and tilt your head to the side. After that, start pushing your hand back and forth rapidly until you feel relief and then tilt your head down for the trapped water to drain.
3. Move Your Jaw
When your ears get clogged, whether due to differences in air pressure or water getting stuck in the ear canal, moving your mouth can provide instant relief. You can try yawning, chewing gum, eating, or drinking – anything that will get your mouth moving and initiate the swallowing reflex. This should help relieve tension in the eustachian tubes and open them up to release the water that’s stuck in your ear.
4. Try the Valsalva Maneuver
Another way to unclog your eustachian tubes is to perform the Valsalva maneuver. Chances are that you have already tried this at least once, but didn’t know it had a name. It’s simple – take a deep breath, close your mouth, pinch your nose shut with your fingers, and slowly start blowing the air out through your nose. When you hear a popping sound, tilt your head for the water to drain out of your ear.
5. Use a Blow Dryer
If the previous four methods fail, you can use a blow dryer to try and evaporate the water from inside your ear. Set the blow dryer to the lowest setting, point it at the affected ear, and gently tug your earlobe. While doing this, make sure that the blow dryer is about a foot away from your ear at all times.
How to Get Water Out of Your Ear: 3 Home Remedies to Try
The five methods above should be enough to help you get water out of your ear. If they don’t, here are three natural remedies that you can try.
1. Olive Oil
Thanks to its strong antibacterial effect, olive oil can help you remove water from your ear while also preventing infection. Take some olive oil, warm it, and pour it into a medical dropper. Place 3-4 drops into the affected ear and lie on the side for 10 minutes. After that, sit up straight and tilt your head to the side to let both the oil and the trapped water drain out of your ear.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is another effective way to clean your ear not only of trapped moisture but also of wax, debris, and even bacteria. Pour some hydrogen peroxide into a medical dropper, place 3-4 drops into your ear, and wait for a few minutes before tilting your head down toward your shoulder.
3. Alcohol and Vinegar
According to experts, a combination of rubbing alcohol and vinegar can help remove water from your ear and prevent infection. Mix the two ingredients in equal parts and use a medical dropper to apply 3-4 drops into your ear. Wait for 30 seconds and then tilt your head sideways to let the liquid drain out.
A Word of Warning
If there’s water trapped in your ear, you should never try to get it out using cotton swabs or your fingers. Otherwise, you could push the water even deeper into your ear, get the earwax and dirt from the outer ear stuck inside the ear canal, and introduce more bacteria. In addition, you might accidentally scratch or injure the skin of the ear canal with your finger or puncture your eardrum with a cotton swab.
While all the home remedies described in this article have proven to be effective at helping drain water out of the ear, you shouldn’t place hydrogen peroxide or any oils into your ear if you have ear tubes, a perforated eardrum, or an active outer ear infection.
If there’s still water in your ear after a few days, you should go to your doctor.