From swimming to showering, water can get trapped in your ear from any exposure to water. Having water in your ear is far from a pleasant experience. You may become hard of hearing, experience a tickling sensation, or you may even hear ringing. If left untreated, the water in your ear can develop into an infection known as otitis externa, also known as swimmer’s ear. 

After you have water sitting in your ear for an extended period of time, the bacteria in your ear canal may begin to multiply, thus causing an infection. While there are several ways to release the water from the inside of your ear, it’s crucial you do it safely to avoid infection. If you have water in your ears, take these steps to get it out safely!

1. The Tried-and-True Shaking Method

This first remedy for a plugged-up ear is one that may date back to your childhood. After taking a swim, it’s likely that you may have water in your ear. Most of the time, our instant reaction to this feeling is to shake our heads. This method may be the fastest solution to flushing the water from your ear.

In order to practice this method, follow these steps:

  • Tilt your head down towards your shoulder.
  • Begin to shake your head back and forth while in this position.
  • If you find that it doesn’t work, the water may need an extra push. Try gently tugging at your earlobe while in this motion to increase its effects.

2. Make Use of Your Blow Dryer

As it turns out, your blow dryer has more uses than just drying your hair. For this next method, all you need is a blow dryer in hand and a little bit of patience. Because the heat from the dryer is so intense, it can help evaporate the water from the inside of your ear canal.

Here’s how to safely put your blow dryer to work:

  • Start with the lowest setting on the dryer. It’s important to be sure to use the low setting versus the high so it isn’t a painful experience.
  • Hold the dryer about a foot away from your ear, swaying it in a back-and-forth motion.
  • Simultaneously, gently tug at your earlobe while letting the air blow into your ear.

3. Try Over-the-Counter Drying Drops

Sometimes, it takes an extra push to get the water fully out of your ear canal. Drying drops offer a safe, speedy, and effective solution to getting water out of your ears. You can find the drops at your local pharmacy, or you can make your own at home.

In order to make homemade drying drops, follow these instructions:

  • Mix 1 part white vinegar and 1 part rubbing alcohol together.
  • Then, pour 1 teaspoon of the solution into each ear.
  • Afterward, be sure to tilt your head and let the water drain out.

4. Get to Chewing

Believe it or not, you can enjoy your favorite piece of gum while working to remove the water from your ear. That’s right, just as your ears pop when you chew gum on a plane, chewing can help loosen water from your eustachian tubes.

All you need to do is grab a piece of gum and get to chewing. Once you feel the water loosen up from the inside of your ear, tilt your head down towards your shoulder and let the water drain out. If you find chewing isn’t cutting it, try yawning instead.

5. Let Gravity Take the Reigns

In a situation where you have a plugged-up ear, gravity may be your new best friend. When you lay down and let gravity do the work, the water that’s stuck inside of your ear should eventually drain out, leaving your ear canal water-free.

In order to let gravity do the work, try these steps:

  • First, lay on your side.
  • Then, place a towel underneath your head so there’s a place for the liquid to go.
  • If gravity does its job, the water should begin to drain out of your head after a few minutes.

6. The Trusted Valsalva Maneuver

If you’ve ever traveled by plane or went scuba diving, you may be no stronger to this next trick. The Valsalva Maneuver is an age-old method that involves plugging your nose blowing it using modest force. When this technique is in play, it works to normalize the pressure in your ears, thus allowing the plugged-up water to drain.

7. Use Your Hands

For this next remedy, all you’ll need is one hand and a gentle pull. In an attempt to release the water from your ear, reach around the back of your head and gently tug on your effected ear with your opposing hand. When this technique is in play, it works to straighten your ear canal and let the water drain out.

8. A Steamy Treatment

When you have a stuffy nose, a common go-to solution is to utilize steam. Steam helps soften your ear wax, in turn making it easy for water to leave your ear. In order to use steam to your advantage, try the following steps:

  • Start by boiling a pot of water.
  • Once it boils, cover the pot with a towel and place your head under it.
  • After around 10 minutes, tilt your head down towards your shoulder and let the water flush out of your ear.

If you prefer a different method that still utilizes steam, try dipping a cloth in warm water and pressing it against your ear. The steam will then fill your ear and soften any ear wax. When you tilt your head, the water will begin to drain out.

What Not to Do

The precautions you take in which you clear your ear canals from water is extremely important. Because the risk of infection is so high, it’s important to know what to do versus what not to do when dealing with water in your ear. In order to prevent infection, be sure not to:

  • Stick anything in your ears to try to get the water out, including cotton swabs.
  • Use any kind of drops if you’ve had recent ear surgery, surgically placed ventilation tubes, or could have a ruptured eardrum.

When to See a Doctor

While most of these methods can remedy water in your ear, they may fail to work if the condition is more serious. If the water is still trapped inside of your ear after 2 to 3 weeks, you should contact your primary care doctor for extended treatment. If untreated, an infection could develop, causing complications such as hearing loss and cartilage damage.

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