Originally written July 11, 2019
You get out of the water after a great day at the pool and notice your hearing sounds off. Yes, you might have water in your ear. It’s not difficult to get it out, but we want to make sure you do so safely so you can avoid an infection.
Water getting stuck in your ears can happen easily, from swimming in bodies of water or pools to bathing to showering for long durations. However, some are more prone to it than others. If you have excessive ear wax, narrow ear canals, or have bone growths in your ear canal, the water can be trapped inside.
If water stays inside your ear, it may cause a condition known as swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear (or otitis externa) is an infection of your outer ear caused by bacteria that can grow in this moist environment. Symptoms include ear pain, itching, ear canal swelling, redness, discomfort, and fluid drainage. If it gets worse, you may experience more intense pain, itching, redness, and fluid damage. In severe cases, the pain may spread to the rest of your face, neck, or side of your head. The lymph nodes in your neck may swell, and you may also develop a fever.
There are plenty of simple remedies for getting water out of your ear. First, try tilting your head in the direction of the blocked ear and jiggling your earlobe. You can also lie down on a towel and let gravity draw the water from your ear.
The hot air from a hair dryer may also evaporate the water. Make sure to turn it to its lowest setting and hold it about a foot from your ear, though.
Finally, some over-the-counter medicines can help break up the moisture and kill any bacteria that may be growing in the water. Do not use products like hydrogen peroxide or alcohol without consulting a physician, however, as these might burn when applied to your ear.
Don’t use a Q-tip or other object you would have to insert into your ear. Doing so can not only force the water deeper into your ear, but it can compress earwax in your ear canal or even puncture your eardrum.
You can keep the inside of your ears dry by wearing ear plugs or a swimmer’s cap. Thoroughly drying the outside of your ear when you get out of the water can also help prevent water from draining into it.
Yes, you should make a doctor’s appointment if you have persistent ear pain, swelling, or drainage so you can be evaluated for possible swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear usually requires treatment with prescription ear drops.
Water in the ear can be a nuisance, but we don’t want it to cause any health problems. If you think you have swimmer’s ear, or are just having trouble getting the water out, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a CEENTA doctor today.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. Do you need an appointment with an ENT doctor? Call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.
It's important to protect your ears during loud music concerts. Learn about this concert hearing tips and how you can enjoy the music better.
How do your eyes react to pool, lake, and ocean water? And is it safe to open them while swimming?
Are you a fan of spicy food? Eating food with spicy ingredients can cause symptoms like watery eyes, tinnitus, runny nose, acid reflux, and a hoarse voice.