People often get water stuck in their ears while swimming or taking a bath or shower, especially in the summer months. While water in your ears can simply be unpleasant, if you don’t remove it or it doesn’t drain out on its own, then you may have to deal with the irritation, or infection of your outer ear and ear canal, which is also known as Swimmer’s Ear.
Normally, the wax present in the ear canal prevents fluid from going deep inside the ear. But at times, fluid can get trapped within the ear. This causes a tickling sensation in the ear, creating much discomfort, accompanied by pain and reduced hearing ability. If left untreated, water in the ear can cause hearing loss, cyst formation, eardrum inflammation and other complications. This is why it is important to get rid of water in the ears as soon as possible. Luckily, it’s often easy to remove water from your ears with just a few quick home-made tricks.
Home Remedies To Treat Swimmer’s Ear
These simple remedies will work wonders to get rid of water in the ear. They are easy to try and safe.
1. Jiggle your earlobe
Gently tug or jiggle your earlobe while tilting your head in a downside towards your shoulder. You can also try shaking your head from side to side while in this position.
2. Create a vacuum in your ear
Just tilt your head sideways (parallel to the ground), and rest your affected ear onto your cupped palm, keeping a tight seal. Gently push your palm back and forth toward your ear in a rapid motion, flattening it as you push and cupping it as you pull away. This will create a vacuum that may draw the water out with a few practices.
NOTE: Don’t do this with the ear facing upwards or you may drive it farther back into the canal. Use a cotton ear bud to very carefully remove the fluid draining from the ear.
3. Rubbing Alcohol and Vinegar
Rubbing alcohol and vinegar is an age-old home remedy to get rid of fluid in the ear. While the antibacterial properties of vinegar will help kill germs present in the ear, rubbing alcohol helps dry up the water in the ear. In addition to helping your ears get rid of that extra water, this solution will also keep them from getting infected.
Simply mix together one teaspoon each of rubbing alcohol and vinegar. Fill an ear-dropper with the liquid, and squeeze a few drops of this solution into your ear (No more than 3 or 4 drops). Gently rub the side area of the ear and wait for water come out of the ear. The acid in this mixture acts to break down the earwax that may be holding in some water in the ear canal. Tilt your head so that the fluid can easily drain out.
NOTE: Do not do this if you have a punctured eardrum.
4. Use a blow dryer
You may be skeptical about using a blow dryer to remove water from your ears, but it has proven to work for some people. A blow dryer can be used to speed up the evaporation of the trapped fluid. The warm, dry air will turn the water to steam and eventually help it dissipate out of the ear.
Simply set your blow dryer to its lowest heat settings, or even to cool (set heat to warm and air flow to low). Turn the dryer on and aim it directly into the ear canal. You should hold the hair dryer at least a foot away from your ear and move it in a back-and-forth motion. The warm/hot air will dry the water. Be careful not to scorch your ear!
5. Garlic and Olive Oil
Garlic and olive oil also help to dislodge fluid in the ear. Garlic is a potent antibacterial that helps to prevent ear infection as well as reduce pain, and olive oil is packed with immune-boosting antioxidants that can soothe any irritation or inflammation.
Crush a clove of garlic into a pan, and pour in olive oil. Warm the oil, stirring to ensure it heats evenly and extracts the garlic oils. Turn off the pan before the oil gets too hot. Once it’s cool, use an ear dropper to put a few drops of the garlic oil into your ear. Allow it to settle for 10 minutes. Next, turn your head sideways and remove the oil as well as the fluid with a soft ear bud.
Extra TIP: Putting 2 to 3 drops of olive oil in each ear, before going for swimming, will lubricate the tissues lining the ear canal and help prevent water from getting trapped in the ears.
6. Use over-the-counter eardrops
You can find a number of OTC ear drops at your pharmacy, and they’ll protect your ear from infections and reduce moisture. Most are alcohol-based and work by killing bacteria or removing earwax and debris. They’re a cheap solution that will do the job very efficiently. Just add the drops to your ear as recommended and tilt your ear down to drain the affected area.
7. Valsalva Maneuver
Close your mouth and gently pinch your nostrils shut with your fingers. Take a deep breath, and slowly blow the air out of your nose to regulate the air pressure. If done correctly, you will hear a slight popping sound which means the Eustachian tubes are open again.
If this method works for you, it may indicate that there was a problem with your Eustachian tubes. Although this can cause you to feel as if water is trapped in your ear canal, that isn’t the case.
Note: Don’t blow your nose too hard as it may cause damage to the ear drum.
8. Salt Compress
Heat one-fourth cup of salt in the microwave and then put the warm salt in a cotton cloth and tie it tightly. Hold this cloth near the opening of the affected ear for 2 to 3 minutes. The heat from the hot salt compress will help the fluid evaporate and relieve pain.
9. Steam Treatment
Inhaling steam is another easy way to ease fluid buildup in the ear. Heat will help to soften ear wax, making it easy for the water to flow out of your ear. Just like you’d use steam to clear a stuffed nose, you can use it for your ears.
Pour hot steaming water in a large bowl. Cover your head with a towel and inhale the steam slowly. After 10 minutes or so, tilt your head to one side and you’ll find the water will start coming out of the ear.
Alternatively, you can take a hot shower to draw fluid out of the ear canal. Or, you can also dip a cloth in hot/warm water, and press the wet cloth against your ear. The steam will fill your ear canal and soften any ear wax. When you tilt your head to the side, the water will usually leak out all on its own.
10. Yawn or chew
The narrow pathway connecting the middle ear cavity with the back of each nostril can swell and become blocked from allergies or infection. This can feel like water in your ear.
Mouth motions, such as yawning or chewing gum, can sometimes help to open the tubes. If the full sensation in your ear is relieved by these actions, this feeling was likely because of an issue with the Eustachian tubes in your ear.
See a doctor when needed
If treating it at home doesn’t work and you experience ear pain, then it’s important that you see a doctor as soon as possible. If your ear becomes inflamed or swollen, you may have developed an ear infection. This also requires medical attention.
Preventing Future Problems
- Dry your ears after swimming
- Avoid using cotton swabs to clean your ears
- Avoid using earplugs or cotton balls in your ears when you have water stuck in them