Now that summer is here, many people in the midlands will flock to the water to cool off. Nothing beats a cool, refreshing dip on a hot and humid day, but occasionally water can get into your ear canals and become trapped, leading to a painful infection – and possibly even hearing loss. We’ve got some tips to help you safely remove water from your ears.
Techniques for Removing Trapped Water
Swimming, surfing and diving are all popular summer pastimes off the Carolina coast. Even if you never venture further than the community pool, you are still susceptible to water entering your ear canals and possibly causing harm.
You’ll know there is water in your ears when sounds are muffled, and your ears feel plugged up. Other symptoms include ear pain, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), loss of balance or coordination, runny nose and sore throat. It’s imperative you remove this water as soon as possible to avoid surfer’s ear, swimmer’s ear or other conditions that can cause hearing loss.
These techniques are proven ways to get water out of your ears. They won’t all work every time, so you might have to experiment with a couple of these before all the water is gone.
- The Gravity/Jiggling Technique. Leaning over and letting gravity work its magic is the easiest and least invasive method of getting water to drain from your ears. Try lying on the ground with your ear facing the floor; tilt your head and jiggle your earlobe and use a cotton swab to (gently) remove water from your ears.
- The Valsalva Maneuver. This method involves closing your mouth, plugging your nose and blowing it using modest force in an effort to normalize the pressure in your ears. It is popular with scuba divers and frequent flyers.
- The Vacuum Technique. Put the Dyson away – this technique simply requires you to place the palm of your hand over the plugged-up ear and press gently for a few seconds to create a suction effect. Repeat until there is no more water inside.
- The Hairdryer Technique. Turn your hairdryer on to its lowest heat setting and, keeping it at a safe distance, aim it at your ear in order to dry off any water that has accumulated. Even if you are only successful in getting rid of a little bit, the rest should drain on its own.
- The Pulling Technique. Try pulling back on the outer portion of your ear by reaching around the back of your head and giving it a tug with your opposing hand. This will straighten out the ear canal and should allow water to drain out.
- The Chew and Yawn Technique. Chewing gum and yawning are often effective ways to remove water from your ears, especially if you shake your head afterwards. Any movement of the mouth helps relieve pressure in the eustachian tubes and can help encourage trapped water to trickle out.
- The Chemical Technique. If all else fails, try using over-the-counter alcohol-based ear drops to remove moisture from the ear canals.
Your CENTA audiologist recommends using swim plugs or a swim cap to prevent water from entering your ear canals, especially if you go swimming often. Dry them thoroughly afterward – even if you’ve just stepped out of the shower. If you are experiencing ear pain or pressure after you’ve been exposed to water, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist.