How to Get Water Out of Your Ear

Janis

By Janis | Updated December 4, 2023

Having water trapped in your ear can be an uncomfortable experience, often leading to muffled hearing or even infection. 

However, there’s no need to worry, as there are several methods to help you get rid of that frustrating water quickly and safely. Whether you’ve been swimming, bathing, or simply got caught in the rain, knowing how to remove water from your ears properly is essential. 

This article will guide you through several easy techniques that can be done at home, ensuring that you experience relief fast.

Causes of Water in Ear

When you’re swimming or taking a shower, water can easily enter your outer ear. This is because your outer ear acts as a funnel, leading to the narrow ear canal. As you submerge your head in water, it can flow into the ear canal and get trapped.

The eardrum serves as a barrier between your outer ear and inner ear, preventing water from reaching the delicate inner ear structures. However, the trapped water in the ear canal can cause discomfort and increase the risk of infection.

Water is most likely to get trapped in your ear canal when there’s a build-up of earwax, debris, or any obstruction. This can slow down the natural drainage process, allowing water to accumulate.

Symptoms of Water in Your Ear

This section provides an overview of what signs to look for so you can decide on the appropriate steps for relief and avoid complications like ear infections.

Itching

When water gets trapped in your ear, you may experience a variety of symptoms. One common sign is itching, which can occur inside the ear canal due to trapped moisture.

This can create a sensation of discomfort or urgency to remove the water from your ear.

Inflammation

Redness or inflammation might also develop on the outer ear as a result of irritation caused by the trapped water.

This can be accompanied by a feeling of pressure or fullness inside the ear, making it uncomfortable.

Muffled Hearing

Muffled hearing is another typical symptom of water being lodged in your ear. 

Sounds may seem dull or distant, and you might have difficulty hearing clearly. This usually improves once the water has been removed from your ear.

Fever

In some cases, a fever may occur if the trapped water leads to an infection. If you develop a fever along with other symptoms of water in your ear, this may indicate an infection that requires medical attention.

Remember, it’s important to address the issue of water in your ear promptly to prevent complications and maintain your ear health.

Effects of Water in Your Ear

Having water trapped in your ear can lead to several issues if not addressed promptly. 

Ear Infection

One common issue is developing an ear infection. When moisture gets trapped in your ear, it can create a perfect environment for bacteria to breed.

This may result in an infection in the outer ear, known as external otitis or swimmer’s ear.

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can also occur temporarily when water remains inside the ear canal. Sounds may seem muffled or distorted, making it difficult for you to hear correctly. 

This is usually a short-term issue that resolves when the water finally drains out.

Ruptured Eardrum

A more severe complication that can arise from water in your ear is a ruptured or perforated eardrum. 

This could happen if you remove the water by using a cotton swab, hairpin, or other objects inside your ear. These methods can accidentally puncture the eardrum, causing pain, drainage, and possible hearing loss.

Removing Water from the Ear Canal

Removing water from your ear canal is often a straightforward process, but it must be done carefully to avoid damaging the delicate inner ear structures.

In this section, we’ll explore various techniques to safely and effectively remove trapped water. 

Gravity and Drainage 

To remove water from your ear, try tilting your head to the side, allowing gravity to do its job. 

Gently pull your earlobe to open the ear canal and let the water flow out.

Another way to naturally drain water from the ear is to lie on your side with the affected ear facing down. 

Stay in this position for a few minutes to allow the water to drain out.

Ear drops 

Use over-the-counter ear drops or create your own mix with 1 part white vinegar and 1 part rubbing alcohol. 

Pour one (1) teaspoon of the solution into each ear, tilt your head, and let it drain.

Vacuum 

Cup your hand over the affected ear and gently push and release to create a vacuum effect. 

This can help dislodge the trapped water.

Warm compress 

Hold a warm, wet cloth against your ear for about 30 seconds. This can help reduce inflammation and open the Eustachian tubes to help clear out the water.

Remember, it’s essential to be gentle with your ears while trying these methods.

What Not to Do

When dealing with water in your ears, there are certain things you should avoid to prevent complications.

Using Q-tips or Earbuds

Using Q-tips or earbuds to remove water from your ear is highly discouraged. Not only does this method potentially push the water further in, but it may also damage delicate ear structures and lead to ear infections.

Furthermore, the ear’s self-cleaning mechanism can be disrupted by Q-tips. This would cause earwax build-up and blockage, leading to more significant problems with auditory health.

Inserting Foreign Objects

Inserting foreign objects in an attempt to dislodge water from your ear can result in more harm than good. There’s a significant risk of puncturing your eardrum, leading to severe discomfort and potential hearing loss.

Notably, small objects could become lodged in the ear canal, causing an obstruction. This could necessitate medical intervention to remove the object, adding unnecessary complications to what could have been a simple problem to resolve. 

Always prioritize safety when dealing with ear-related issues.

Cotton Balls as Earplugs

Although they may seem softer than Q-tips, cotton balls still pose the risk of pushing water deeper into your ear. Plus, they can become lodged and cause complications.

How to Prevent the Issue

Preventing water from becoming trapped in your ear is often easier than dealing with the discomfort it can cause.

This section outlines preventive measures that can be easily incorporated into your routine. Being proactive in this regard can help you avoid the inconvenience and potential complications associated with water-logged ears.

Cover Your Ears

To avoid water getting trapped in your ears, consider using earplugs when swimming or taking part in water activities.

Earplugs create a barrier that prevents water from entering your ear canal.

Wearing a swim cap or swimming cap can also help in keeping water out of your ears. Ensure that the cap covers your ears entirely, providing a snug fit around them.

Use Petroleum Jelly

You can apply a small amount of petroleum jelly around the outer rim of your ears before swimming. It can create a thin, water-repellent film, reducing the risk of water entering your ear canal.

Remember to use it sparingly and avoid pushing it inside the ear.

Use Drying Drops

Using drying drops prophylactically, especially if you’re prone to getting water trapped in your ears, can help prevent the situation. 

These drops, available over-the-counter, can assist in absorbing excess moisture and keeping your ears dry. Make sure to follow the instructions on the package for proper usage.

By adopting these preventive measures, you can avoid discomfort and potential complications associated with trapped water in your ears.

When to Get Help

Although water in your ear usually drains on its own, sometimes it can lead to complications that necessitate a visit to a healthcare provider. 

If you are experiencing severe pain, persistent inflammation, dizziness, or the inability to hear, it is time to consult with an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist or otolaryngologist.

An ENT specialist can examine your ear, provide a proper diagnosis, and even recommend ear surgery if required.

It is essential to take care of your ears to prevent long-term complications. If traditional methods fail to remove the water or if symptoms worsen, do not hesitate to seek professional help from an ENT specialist. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best ear drops for removing water?

Over-the-counter (OTC) ear drops can be effective in removing water from your ears.

Make sure to follow the directions on the package, and use the drops at room temperature.

Can hydrogen peroxide help remove water in the ear?

Yes, hydrogen peroxide may help. Use three to four drops and leave it in your ear for one to two minutes before tilting your head to let the fluid run out.

Remember not to use this method if you have a perforated eardrum or other ear-related issues.

How do you treat water trapped in the ear after swimming?

To drain water from your ears after swimming, tilt your head to one side and gently tug on your earlobe.

You can also use over-the-counter ear drops or the Valsalva maneuver by pinching your nose and gently blowing. Avoid inserting objects into your ear.

What can provide relief from ear pain due to water?

To relieve ear pain caused by trapped water, try using over-the-counter pain relievers or applying a warm compress to the affected ear.

Consult your healthcare provider if pain persists or worsens, as it could indicate an infection.

How long does it take for water to come out of the ear naturally?

The duration for water to naturally exit the ear can vary from person to person, typically ranging from a few minutes to several hours. Factors like earwax build-up and the water’s position can influence this time frame.

If water remains trapped for an extended period, it could lead to complications like ear infections. Thus, if you experience persistent symptoms, consult a healthcare provider for appropriate treatment options.