Water mostly gets trapped in the ear after swimming, though it may also result from sweat. Whichever the cause, it’s never a pleasant situation. It leaves feeling uneasy and, although you’re still able to hear in most cases, the ear feels muffed and tickly.
The good news is that the water usually drains out on its own eventually. Unfortunately, though, the feeling of having water trapped in your ear can make you restless for hours. Moreover, if the water fails to drain out on time, it creates the risk of a type of infection known as swimmers’ ear.
Also known as otitis externa, swimmers ear is an itchy, intensely painful infection of the outer ear canal. It’s characterized by redness inside the ear and fluid drainage from the ear. Fever, swelling around the neck, and complete blockage of the ear canal are also possible. Treatment usually involves eardrops. If left untreated, it can cause more severe ear infections.
How to Get Water Out of your Ears
Fortunately, it’s very easy to remove water trapped in your ear. But before we get to the main points, it’s just as important to learn what not to do.
What Not to Do
The restlessness and stress caused by having water trapped in the ear can cause people to take unnecessary, risky measures. The following are a few things you must not try;
- 1. Avoid cotton swabs
Cotton swabs are popular, but they are extremely risky as the swab can easily push earwax and dirt down your ear canal. It can also remove the wax that protects your ear and disrupt the bacteria inside the ear canal. Some of the cotton may even get trapped inside, increasing the risk of ear infection.
- 2. Don’t stick your fingers into your ear
The dangers are similar to cotton swabs, only worse. There’s a significant risk of pushing wax down the ear canal. Moreover, what do you think are the chances of cutting the ear canal with your long nails? Very high, right? If your hands are untidy, you may also introduce fresh dirt into the ear.
- 3. Don’t use hydrogen peroxide without the doctor’s advise
You’ve likely heard about the effectiveness of hydrogen peroxide in unclogging and even cleansing the ear. Although it’s true, this doesn’t mean that you have the authority to use hydrogen peroxide every time you have an ear problem. It can cause ear irritation and blistering.
What to Do
The following five tips will likely remove the trapped water without much effort. If the first one doesn’t work, try the second and so forth until you succeed.
- 1. Jiggle the ear lobe
This is the very first tip to consider. Wipe the ear with a dry towel. Then, tilt your head down toward the shoulder on the side with the affected ear. So, if you have water trapped in the left ear, bend your head toward the left shoulder and if it’s the right ear, bend towards the right. Then jiggle vigorously. You could also try shaking your head from side to side. This method almost always works.
- 2. Let gravity do the job
This method is almost similar to #1 above, except that there’s no jiggling. Instead, tilt your head towards the shoulder on the affected ear and gently pull out the ear lobe. This straightens the ear canal and can help drain the trapped water via gravity.
- 3. Create a vacuum in the affected ear
The theory behind this plan is that if you can create a vacuum in the affected ear, the water will be forced to drain out to occupy the area. Begin by tilting the ear as above, but rest it on a cupped palm. Make sure it creates a tight seal. Then, gently push your hand back and forth, flattening as your push and cupping as you pull.
- 4. Use alcohol and vinegar
Alcohol helps evaporate water, while vinegar helps prevent the growth of bacteria. Together, the two forth the perfect combination to remove trapped water from the ear. To make the solution, combine half alcohol and half vinegar. Then use a sterile dropper to put 3-4 drops in the affected ear.
- 5. Use a blow dryer
You can evaporate the trapped water using a blow dryer as long as you don’t set it too high. Ideally, you want to set it to the lowest setting. Also, hold it at least one foot away from the ear to avoid damage to the inner ear. The heat from the dryer can dry up the water.
When to See the Doctor
In normal circumstances, one of the five tips above will work. In fact, most people are usually successful after the first two methods. However, if all the five tips didn’t help get water out of your ears, it may be time to see the doctor.