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Water in Ears - How to get water out of your ear

By: Paul Harrison Updated: 14th June 2022 in: Hearing Loss Awareness, Latest News, Articles
Water in Ears

Water in Ear

How do I get water out of my ears?


Blocked ear after swimming and water in ear symptoms

Ear blocked after swimming?  It doesn't matter how old you are, swimming and playing in the water is a lot of fun - however, it can lead to water getting stuck in your ear.  This can result in a fullness feeling in your ear canal and/or a feeling that you have water swishing around in your ear - similar to a tickle in your ear.  

These symptoms can be in both or just one ear.  In addition to these symptoms, you may feel discomfort in your jawbone or throat and your hearing might be muffled or distorted.

Generally tilting your head will help the water to come out of its own accord.  If you have water stuck in your ear for days it can sometimes lead to an ear infection like otitis externa, also called swimmer's ear.  It's important to keep on top of your ear and hearing health and if you have any concerns you need to speak to your local GP. 

Below we talk about what causes trapped water in the ear, how to get water out of your ear, and how to prevent water in your ear.


How to get rid of water in ear

Why and how does water get stuck in your ear?  Trapped water in the ear after swimming is due to various reasons, but the main causes are usually because something is inside your ear canal like a build-up of earwax, or you have narrow ear canals.

There are also more people that are prone to waterlogged ears and that is anyone who spends a lot of time in the water, like surfers for example.  Getting water trapped in your ears can happen to anyone and anytime you go under the water - especially if there is more pressure than usual or you are inverting.  Like doing a handstand under the water.


How To Unblock Water In Ear

How to get trapped water out of your ear

Guidance on how to remove water from ear


Wondering how to remove water from the ear?

If you are finding it difficult to get rid of the feeling of water in ear the most important thing to remember is to not insert anything inside your ear canal.  If you do, you might be at risk of pushing the obstruction or water deeper into your ear canal, puncturing your eardrum, injuring your ear canal or even taking away the protective layer of earwax that stops bad bacteria from growing.


Try using these methods to get water out of your ear instead:

  • Shake the water out of your ear:  Tip your head to the side (both left and right) and tug your ear lobes gently at the same time.
  • When water gets stuck in your eustachian tubes:  Chew gum and move your jaw around as you tilt your ears towards the ground.
  • Open closed eustachian tubes to release the water stuck in your ears:  Breathe in, pinch your nose, close your mouth and inhale slowly to open your Eustachian tubes.  This is called the Valsalva Manoeuvre.
  • Gravity can help the water drain from your ear:  Go on the side of your body that the affected ear is on and rest your ear on a towel.
  • Heat can help release water from your middle ear:  Lie down and put your ear on a warm face cloth.  Or use the low setting on a hair dryer and gently dry your ears.
  • Creating a vacuum may draw the water out:  Put your hand over your ear as you tilt your head down towards the ground and then create suction by slowly moving your hand back and fourth.
  • Olive oil might help drain the water out of your ear:  Warm olive oil, drop a few drops in the affected ear, lie on your side for ten or so minutes, sit up and tilt your ears down to release the water.


 feeling of water in ear for months

Water Trapped in Ear

The dangers


What are the dangers of water in my ears?

In some cases, the water in your ears will come out on its own, as your earwax is water repellent.  However, if it doesn't, as we've mentioned already, bad bacteria can grow and cause infections like swimmer's ear.  Warm or wet conditions are the best environments for bacteria to grow.  The symptoms of swimmer's ear may vary in severity, but they may include:

  • Pain or an uncomfortable feeling in your ear.
  • Itchy ear.
  • Inflamed ear.
  • Discharge from your ear.


Can I prevent getting water in my ear?

Wearing earplugs and/or a swimming cap while swimming can help prevent getting water in your ears, these can be found at your local pharmacy.  If you talk to your audiologist, they can recommend the best earplugs for swimming, some of them can be custom-fit to the shape of your ear canal that are often reusable and washable.  They can also advise you on other methods of how to prevent water from getting stuck in your ear in the future.

After swimming, always dry your ear properly, to avoid any excess water getting into your ear, and using the hair dryer can evaporate any water inside your ear after swimming, bathing, or showering.


How long can water stay in your ear?

Water can stay in your ear for days, even months, and can be an awkward and irritating sensation.  If water stays trapped in your ear after 2 or 3 days or if you show signs of infection, it is important that you contact your local GP.  If you avoid seeking medical attention, your symptoms can worsen and over time cause more long-term damage to your ears or even hearing loss.


 water stuck in ear for weeks

Water trapped in ear for days

When to see a doctor


I've tried everything to get water out of my ear- what should I do?

Usually, trapped water goes away on its own without treatment.  If symptoms persist for longer than three days, the at-home treatments don't work, you're experiencing pain, or you think you might have an ear infection - contact your local GP.

Ear infections can quickly become serious if not diagnosed and treated quickly, such as hearing loss, cartilage complications, or bone damage.  Your GP can prescribe you the best course of treatment for your symptoms, to relieve the pain and infection severity.

If you think you might have hearing loss, or your hearing has worsened and need some impartial advice on hearing healthcare and hearing aids - please call us free on 0800 567 7621



Read Next:  Why do my ears itch?

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This article was written by Paul Harrison - Audiology Expert

Meet Paul Harrison, Audiology Expert & Founder of Hearing Aid UK

Managing Director & founder of Hearing Aid UK, with over 20 years of audiology experience and a member of the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists Council (BSHAA) between 2015-2020.

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