This guide explains step by step how to get water out of your ear safely, and tips for avoiding it happening again.
Getting water stuck in your ear after swimming or showering is a common and often uncomfortable experience. While it might seem trivial, it’s important to address it promptly to prevent discomfort, pain, and even infection.
How to get water out of your ear
In this guide, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive overview of effective methods for how to get water out of your ear safely, as well as tips for prevention and when to seek medical attention.
Understanding the Ear and Water Trapping
The ear is a complex structure, consisting of the outer, middle, and inner ear. The ear canal, part of the outer ear, is where water can get trapped. The ear canal produces earwax to help protect the ear from foreign substances.
However, water can sometimes mix with the earwax, causing a blockage and a sensation of fullness or discomfort. In these cases, you need to understand how to get water out of your ear safely without damaging the ear drum.
How to get water out of your ear: top methods
- Tilt your head to the side with the affected ear facing downward.
- Gently tug on your earlobe and hop on one foot to encourage the water to drain out.
- Use a towel or tissue to catch any water that comes out.
- Close your mouth and pinch your nostrils shut.
- Take a deep breath and gently exhale through your nose while keeping your nostrils pinched.
- The pressure change of the Valsalva Maneuver might help force the water out.
Over-the-counter ear drops specifically designed to dry out the ear canal can help break up the water and aid its removal. Follow the instructions on the ear drops’ packaging.
Apply a warm, dry compress to the affected ear for a few minutes.
The warmth can encourage the trapped water to evaporate.
Lying Down Technique
- Lie down on your side with the affected ear facing the ground.
- Wait for a few minutes, allowing gravity to help the water drain out.
Preventing water being trapped
Prevention is key to avoiding the discomfort of water trapped in your ear. Here are some tips:
Use Earplugs: Wear earplugs when swimming or participating in water activities to prevent water from entering the ear canal.
Dry Ears: After swimming or showering, tilt your head to the side to help water drain from your ears.
Towel Dry: Gently dry your outer ear with a clean towel after water activities.
Ear Drops: Use over-the-counter ear drops designed to prevent water from getting trapped in your ears before swimming.
When to Seek Medical Attention
In most cases, the water trapped in your ear can be resolved with the methods mentioned above. However, if you experience the following symptoms, it’s essential to seek medical attention:
- Pain: Severe pain, discomfort, or a sensation of pressure in the ear.
- Hearing Loss: Any sudden or significant hearing loss.
- Discharge: Any discharge, bleeding, or fluid coming from the ear.
- Persistent Symptoms: If the trapped water persists for more than a day or is accompanied by worsening symptoms.
Additional Tips and Precautions
- Avoid Inserting Objects: Never insert cotton swabs, bobby pins, or any other objects into your ear canal. This can push the water further in or cause injury.
- Gentle Approach: Be gentle when trying to remove water from your ear. Aggressive methods can damage your ear or worsen the situation.
- Consult a Professional: If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with the methods, consult a healthcare professional, such as an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist or a doctor.
Damaging the Ear Drum
Damaging your eardrum, also known as the tympanic membrane, can lead to a range of symptoms and potential complications. The eardrum is a thin, delicate membrane that separates the outer ear from the middle ear. It plays a vital role in transmitting sound vibrations to the middle ear and protecting the middle ear from external debris and infection. Here’s what can happen if you damage your eardrum:
1. Hearing Loss
One of the primary functions of the eardrum is to transmit sound waves to the middle ear. Any damage to the eardrum, such as a tear or rupture, can lead to partial or complete hearing loss. The extent of hearing loss depends on the severity of the damage and whether the eardrum is partially or fully perforated.
2. Ear Pain and Discomfort
A damaged eardrum can cause significant pain and discomfort. The pain might be sharp or aching and can range from mild to severe. Discomfort may also include a feeling of fullness in the ear, akin to the sensation when water is trapped in the ear.
3. Ear Infections
The eardrum acts as a barrier that protects the middle ear from infection-causing agents in the environment. When the eardrum is damaged, bacteria and other pathogens can enter the middle ear more easily, increasing the risk of middle ear infections (otitis media). These infections can lead to additional pain, inflammation, and fluid buildup behind the eardrum.
Tinnitus is the perception of ringing, buzzing, hissing, or other noises in the ears without any external source. Damage to the eardrum can sometimes result in tinnitus as the auditory system’s response to the disruption caused by the injury.
5. Vertigo and Balance Issues
The inner ear plays a crucial role in balance and spatial orientation. While the eardrum itself is not directly responsible for balance, significant damage to the ear, including the eardrum, could potentially disrupt the inner ear’s function and lead to vertigo or dizziness.
6. Hearing Changes and Sensitivity
A damaged eardrum might affect the way you perceive certain sounds. Some people experience changes in their ability to hear different frequencies or find certain sounds uncomfortably loud due to the altered mechanics of the ear.
7. Delayed Healing
In most cases, a perforated eardrum can heal on its own, but the healing process can be slow and may vary depending on the size and location of the tear. During the healing period, there’s an increased risk of infections, and it’s essential to follow medical advice to prevent complications.
8. Long-Term Effects
While many minor eardrum injuries can heal without long-term effects, more severe damage might lead to persistent hearing loss or chronic ear infections if not properly treated. In some cases, surgical intervention might be necessary to repair the eardrum.
It’s important to note that if you suspect you’ve damaged your eardrum, it’s advisable to seek medical attention promptly. A healthcare professional, such as an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, can examine your ear, diagnose the extent of the damage, and recommend appropriate treatment. Avoid inserting any objects into your ear canal, as this can exacerbate the damage or introduce infection. By seeking timely medical care, you can ensure the best possible outcome for your ear health and overall well-being.
Experiencing water trapped in your ear can be uncomfortable, but with the right approach, it’s manageable. The methods mentioned above can help safely remove water from your ear and alleviate discomfort. Prevention is key, so take steps to keep water out of your ear during water activities.
If you encounter persistent symptoms or severe discomfort, don’t hesitate to consult a medical professional for proper guidance and treatment. Remember, maintaining ear health is essential for overall well-being, so prioritize safe and effective methods to address water trapped in your ear.