You don’t have to go swimming in order to get water trapped in your ear canal; it can happen at home in the shower or tub, or at work if you’re exposed to water. You’ll feel a tickling sensation within the ear, which may trickle down to your jaw-line or throat. Hearing can seem muffled the longer the water stays within the ear canal. While the water typically drains out on its own, it’s possible to develop an ear infection, known as swimmer’s ear, if the water doesn’t exit quickly. Here are some ways to help get water out of your ears in a safe manner.
- Give your earlobe a shake. Tilt your head down toward your shoulder and gently pull on your earlobe. While remaining in this position, shake your head from side to side.
- Lie down on your side. There’s a possibility that gravity will do the work for you. Lie down for a few minutes with a towel under your head to absorb any water that is released. The water may drain slowly.
- Form a vacuum with your hands. While your head is tilted to the side, cup your palm and rest your ear onto it, creating a seal. Push your hand back and forth rapidly toward your ear; this will flatten your ear as you push and cup your ear as you pull away. Keep your head tilted down so water will be released.
- Use heat from your blow dryer. While running it on its lowest setting, hold the dryer a foot away from your ear; move it back and forth. Tug down on your earlobe and allow the warm air to flow into your ear.
- Make an at-home version of eardrops. Using equal parts alcohol and equal parts vinegar, apply three to four drops into the ear using a sterile dropper. Rub the outside portion of the ear and wait 30 seconds. Afterward, tilt your head and let the solution drain out of your ears. Alcohol helps with evaporation and decreases the growth of bacteria; vinegar helps remove earwax, which may be causing the water to stay within the canal. Note: Do NOT use this method if you have an outer ear infection, a perforated eardrum, or eardrum tubes.
- Use a hot compress. This is effective for water that has been trapped in the Eustachian tubes (these connect your middle ear to space behind your nasal passages). Wet a cloth with warm water, wring out any excess water. Tilt your head down and place the cloth on the outside of the ear. Leave for 30 seconds, remove for one minute. Repeat four to five times; you may also sit up or lie down on the opposite side affected after treatment.