Playing in water is one thing that appeals to all ages. But all that splashing around, and cannonballing can lead to water getting trapped inside your ears. And we all know how uncomfortable that can be.
So, how to get rid of water in your ears?
Sometimes, you simply tilt your head from one side to the other and the water is out. All is well. But then there are times when the water inside your ears doesn’t drain naturally. What changed?
There are several factors involved here. Let us first understand why water gets trapped in our ears.
Why Does it Happen?
Water can get trapped in your ears for several reasons. The most usual reason is a narrow ear canal. Now, unfortunately, that’s just your anatomy and you have no control over it.
Another reason is that water can become trapped inside your ear canal. Ideally, water should flow naturally, but if you have excessive earwax or another foreign entity inside that can further narrow your ear canal, the water doesn’t have a channel of release and remains stuck inside your ears.
Does It Happen to Everyone?
Getting water trapped inside your ears can happen to everyone, but if you are a water baby or spend a lot of time in the water, you are more prone to it. Kids who love splashing in the water and playing with their water guns are also most at risk.
Water can also inside your ears every time you go underwater. When you invert yourself during a handstand or a flip, there is a likely chance that water will get into your ears. Sometimes, the mere act of showering can also cause water to get trapped inside your ears.
Signs That You Have Water in Your Ears
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When there’s something wrong with our ear, it creates a very unsettling feeling. You feel as if something is off. It affects your functionality and can throw you off balance.
The symptoms of having water in your ear are mild at first, but the longer the water stays inside your ears, the worse it can become. Your symptoms can go from bad to worse. Doctors would often classify these indicators from mild to moderate until it reaches an advanced stage.
• Mild discomfort that becomes worse if you apply slight pressure outside your ear
• Mild discomfort when pulling on your outer ear
• Itchy sensation in your ear canal
• Minor redness inside the ear
• Drainage of odorless and clear fluid from the ear
• Ears feel plugged up
• Escalated pain and the ear are painful to touch
• Increased itchiness inside the ear
• Pronounced redness of your ear
• Too much fluid drainage with a mild foul odor
• A feeling of fullness inside your air
• Partial blockage of your ear canal resulting from swelling, accumulated fluid, and other ear debris
• Muffled and decreased hearing
• Unbearable pain radiating to the entire face, neck, and the side of the neck
• Ear canals are completely blocked
• Pronounced swelling of the outer ear
• Neck lymph nodes are swollen
• Loss of hearing
• Behavior problems
How Long Can Water Stay in Your Ear?
Trapped water inside your ears ideally should go away without any medical intervention. But in some cases, water can stay in your ear for 24 hours or more.
The more it lingers inside, the more uncomfortable you become and the more you are at risk for infections. There is no telling how long the water will stay inside your auditory organ. But if it is more than three days already, you should have it checked by a doctor already.
What Happens When You Have Water in Your Ear for Too Long?
When you have water in your ear for a long time, you risk the possibility of developing an infection known as a swimmer’s ear.
This is when your outer ear canal becomes infected. Note that bacteria thrive well in a moist environment, and when you have water in your ears for a while, you create that perfect setting for infection to grow.
When you have fluid in your ears, you would generally try to remove it on your own using home tools and remedies. Although these can be successful sometimes, they can also cause more damage.
The following are some of the possible medical problems that you may face if water remains in your ear for a long time.
Temporary Hearing Loss
While battling an infection, your hearing might get muffled. But this will eventually clear up once the water is removed.
Chronic Otitis Externa
Chronic Otitis Externa occurs when bacteria invade the skin inside your ear canal. If your symptoms last for more than three months, treatment can become difficult.
Factors such as skin allergies, adverse reactions to antibiotic ear drops, and skin conditions like dermatitis can prolong the treatment and make it more challenging.
There are rare cases when an untreated issue of water in the ear can develop and spread into the deeper layers of the skin. The infection can also penetrate your connective tissues.
Depending on your infection’s severity, cellulitis can be treated in 5 days and can extend to a few weeks based on your response to the treatment.
Bone and Cartilage Injury
This is a rare complication that results from having water in your ear and is one of the scariest and most painful conditions if left untreated. This happens when the infection spreads throughout the outer ear’s cartilage and up to the bones of your lower skull.
This is extremely painful, and if you have existing health conditions like diabetes or a weak immune system, it can increase the risk of further complications.
If water remains in your ear for a long time and gets infected, it can even develop into an advanced skull base osteomyelitis. This infection can spread through your entire body and affect your other body parts and nerves, including your brain. When you get to this stage, the simple problem of having water inside your ears then becomes life-threatening.
It is thus crucial that as soon as you realize your symptoms, you get immediate medical assistance.
Why Do I Feel Like I Have Water in My Ear When There Isn’t?
You are confident that there’s no way water got inside your ears because you haven’t gone swimming and you haven’t taken a full bath yet, but why does it feel like there’s water trapped inside?
The most likely reason would be an ear infection. This condition is relatively common and can be caused by a lot of things. Allergies, sinus infections, colds, flu, and smoking can contribute to that very off feeling of having water in your ear.
It is also possible that you are overdue for an extensive ear cleaning; all the earwax, dead skin, and other debris inside your ear can cause severe discomfort.
Tips to Get Rid of Water in Your Ears
It is necessary to get rid of any trapped water from your ear as soon as possible. Be more attentive to kids if they have been in the water for too long since they can’t usually explain their discomfort. And don’t wait around for it to go away on its own.
Here are some suggestions that you can implement to get rid of the water in your ears.
How to Get Rid of Water in Inner Ear
The “jiggling” or “gravity method” can be an effective way to get that fluid out of your inner ear because you will leave it to gravity to do the work. Below are the steps you should follow.
#1. Lie on the ground with the concerned ear parallel to the floor.
#2. Tilt your head.
#3. Jiggle your earlobe.
#4. Repeat a couple of times.
How to Get Rid of Water in Your Eardrum
Creating a vacuum can remove the water inside the eardrum.
#1. Tilt your head sideways.
#2. Cup your palm around your affected ear and create a snug seal.
#3. Lightly push your hand back and forth towards your ear in a rapid motion. Make sure that you flatten it as you go, and you cap it when you pull back.
#4. Slant your head down and let the water drain.
How to Get Rid of Water in Your Ear Canal
Here are the steps of the “pulling technique” to remove water from your ear canal. This will align your ear canal and let the water drain out.
#1. Reach around the back of your head.
#2. Gently tug on your ear’s outer portion using your opposite hand.
How to Get Rid of Water in Your Middle Ear
When water is stuck or trapped in your middle ear, also called the eustachian tubes, you can try to yawn repeatedly or chew extensively.
Yawning or chewing gum can help open the tubes and allow the water to pass through slowly. It can also relieve the tension in your eustachian tubes.
Another option you can try is the Valsalva maneuver, which also opens the eustachian tubes. All you must do is breathe deeply, hold the breath, and then close your mouth. With your mouth closed, use your fingers to pinch your nostrils shut gently. Then, gradually blow air out through your mouth. Once there is a popping sound, you have successfully opened your tubes.
A word of caution, you must be careful in performing this since blowing too hard can cause pressure and damage your eardrum.
Lastly, you can use steam to open your eustachian tubes. Try having a long, hot shower or use a bowl of hot water for steam.
Here are some of the methods that can effectively help in removing water from your ear.
How to Get Rid of Water in Your Ears Using Hairdryer
The following steps will help evaporate the water inside your ear.
#1. Turn on your hairdryer and set it to the lowest possible setting.
#2. Hold your hairdryer about a foot away from your affected ear.
#3. Always move the hairdryer in a back-and-forth motion.
#4. Tug down your earlobe and let the warm air blow into your ear.
How to Get Rid of Water in Your Ears Using Alcohol and Vinegar
This solution aims to dry out the water in your ears while preventing bacterial growth.
#1. Blend equal parts white vinegar and alcohol.
#2. Place one teaspoon or 5 milliliters of this alcohol–vinegar solution to the impacted ear.
#3. Rub the outside of your ear.
#4. After half a minute, let the water drain back out by tilting your head sideways.
How to Get Rid of Water in Your Ears Using Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is an effective solution to clear out the earwax and debris from your ear, which might as well be the reason for water getting trapped inside your ear. These ear drops are easily available in stores as well as online.
Please note that using hydrogen peroxide is not recommended if you have a perforated eardrum, an outer ear infection, or eardrum tubes.
How to Get Rid of Water in Your Ears Using Cotton Ball
Just like the other DIY treatments, cotton balls with a saline solution can clean your ear and help clear the way for trapped water to flow out.
#1. Soak your cotton ball in a saline solution.
#2. Tilt your head.
#3. Let the cotton ball drip the salt into the impacted ear.
#4. Let the saline water stay in your ear for about 2–3 minutes.
#5. Drain all the fluid inside your ear by tilting your head in the opposite direction.
What Not to Do
If these tips do not work, do not resort to using your fingers, ear swabs, or other putting foreign objects inside your ear. This can make the situation much worse.
You might end up introducing more bacteria inside your ear and even push the water deeper. You may even injure your ear canal and puncture your eardrum.
How to Prevent the Problem
Here are some simple ways to prevent water from being trapped inside your ears.
#1. Use a swim cap or earplugs when you are swimming.
#2. Thoroughly dry the outside of your ears with a towel.
#3. When you feel like there is water inside your ears, try to remove it using our tips given above or immediately seek medical attention. Do not wait and allow the water to accumulate inside your ear.
When to See Your Doctor
Water in your ears should ideally go away on its own. But if it doesn’t, and the home remedies are not successful, then you can consult your doctor. If it has been three days and you are already showing signs of infection, get to your doctor STAT.
As we have seen, there are numerous ways on how to get rid of water in your ears. Most of them are easy and can give you instant relief. But should medical intervention be required, never hesitate to contact your doctor.