Ask the expert

How to get water out of your ear

 

    Answer: 

    Whether you’ve been swimming or just come out of the shower, water can become trapped in the ear. Usually, it’ll come out on its own, but sometimes it can lead to ear infections. So, if it gets trapped, here are some things you can do to safely help it on its way.

    Signs you have water trapped in your ear

    • Muffled hearing
    • Feeling of fullness in the ear canal
    • Tickly feeling in the ear

    Will water come out of my ear naturally?

    Most of the time, any water in your ears will trickle out on its own after a few minutes or hours. Sometimes it can get trapped due to a narrow ear canal, or if earwax is blocking its way out.

    How to get water out of your ear canal

    • Tip your head to the side or gently tug on your earlobe to encourage the water to move.
    • Tugging gently up and back on your outer ear (pinna) while turning your head on its side will straighten the ear canal and help the water to escape.
    • Try lying on your side for a few minutes with your head on a pillow or towel – often the water will slowly drain out.
    • Move your jaw around by yawning or chewing, then tip your head to the side.
    • Cup the palm of your hand over your ear and tilt your head to the side, gently pushing and releasing your palm to create a vacuum.
    • Speak to your GP or pharmacist about ear drops (sometimes they’re not suitable if your eardrum is damaged or if you have an infection)

    What not to do when removing water from your ear

    • Don’t use your finger, cotton buds or anything else to try to remove the water – this could lead to an infection or even damage to your eardrum.
    • Avoid putting anything in your ear without consulting your GP, pharmacist or audiologist first. That includes home remedies like olive oil, water or vinegar.

    What happens if water gets in your ear?

    Water usually makes its way out of the ear on its own. But sometimes the water can become trapped in the ear. Trapped water coupled with the warm conditions of the ear makes it an ideal environment for bacteria to grow and cause an infection, specifically an ear canal infection (otitis externa). This type of ear infection is common in regular swimmers, which is why it also goes by the name of swimmer’s ear.

    How to prevent getting water in your ear in the future

    If you’re a regular swimmer, surfer or diver, ear plugs might be a good option to keep water out and reduce your risk of developing an infection. Otherwise, drying off your ears with a towel after you’ve been in water is a good habit to get in to.

    When should I consult my GP or audiologist?

    If you haven’t had any luck with these tricks and tips or you feel the symptoms of ear infection (itchy ears, redness or swelling in the ear canal, discomfort or pain or muffled hearing), then it’s a good idea to see your GP or audiologist for treatment or advice.

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