When water gets stuck in your ear, it can be very irritating and sometimes painful. Initial discomfort is manifested as decreased hearing on the affected side. When not properly addressed, it may result to possible bacterial infection leaving temporary or even permanent damage. Worst, the infection may travel up to the brain and this can be life threatening. How is this possible? How can simple water entry cause such consequences? A basic knowledge on the anatomy of the ear will give you a much better understanding on this.
The ear is composed of an outer ear, middle and an inner ear. The outer ear is that part which you see sticking out from both sides of the head up to the Eustachian tube which runs for about two centimeters. The middle ear has a tympanic membrane, also known as “eardrum”, a thin covering which separates the outer from the middle ear. It also serves as protection against foreign objects or microorganisms from entering the innermost part of the ear. There are three small bones attached to the eardrum and these are responsible for the transmission of sound and vibration. The inner ear contains a spiral tube and semi-circular canals which are filled with fluid, both important in hearing and balancing. It is the most sensitive part as this also houses the auditory nerve transmitting the electrical impulses directly to the brain. The cerumen or wax found inside the ears is a form of defense against the microorganisms or any foreign objects or insects.
Water trapped inside the ears stays along the Eustachian tube and may be partly or wholly cover the tympanic membrane. The pressure build up on this area makes it painful. If the eardrum is perforated from previous traumas or infections, water may seep into the innermost part of the ear, permitting easy entry of new the harmful microorganisms. On the other hand, for an intact eardrum, the moist environment will enhance the growth of the bacteria or fungi present and result to invasion of the skin. Any form of manipulation with any instrument like sticks or hairpins can further irritate the skin, thus, causing breaks. Hence, the importance of draining the fluid trapped inside the ear.
Below are simple different ways on how to remove the fluid stuck in the ears.
- Cover the affected ear with your fingertip and push it until it creates a vacuum. Release the pressure by pulling it rapidly. Repeat this until the water goes out. Try also doing this with the affected ears facing down.
- While lying on one side with the affected ear facing the ceiling, instill one to two drops of alcohol using a cotton swab on the affected ear. This will hasten the evaporation of water.
- For cases where the waxy cerumen may be blocking the passage, it would be better to make a 50:50 mixture of 5% acetic acid (house vinegar) and isopropyl alcohol. The acid helps dissolve the wax while the alcohol evaporates the water. Lie down on the side of the affected ear until gravity pulls down the water. You may put a clean towel over a pillow on the affected side to absorb the water.
- Instill 5-10 drops of water on the affected ear while tilting your head with the affected side facing upward. Then tilt your head on the opposite side and allow the water to drip downwards. By doing this, you trap the water and release it by gravity.
- Some people prefer not to do anything about it and wait until the water drains out or dissolves. This, however, is not true for everyone.
- If there is painful swelling, or a foul-smelling discharge coming out of your ears, there may be an infection. This warrants immediate consult with your health care provider and oral antibiotics may be necessary. Draining the fluid with
If all else fails, a thorough examination by your doctor will help you a lot and offer non-invasive and invasive procedures to unclog the water in your ear.