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Water in the ears can feel ticklish, distort hearing, and may even be painful. If the water does not drain on its own, it can foster an infection in the external auditory canal of the outer ear. Various methods can be employed to remove water from the ears.

The Vacuum Method

To make use of the vacuum method, simply tilt your head sideways and cup your ear into the palm of your hand to make a slight seal. Next, push your hand upwards and downwards rapidly, flattening the palm against the ear and then pulling it away. This will create suction to help to expel the water. Lastly, tilt the head to the side to allow the water to drain out.

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The Valsalva Maneuver

This is an old trick swimmers often use to remove water from their ears. The method is simple: breath in deeply, then close your mouth and gently pinch your nostrils shut. Very slowly, blow the air through your nose. You should soon hear a popping sound, and if you do, it is working. To finish, tilt your head to the side to allow the water to drain out. It is important not to blow too hard, as this can damage the eardrums.

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Fight Water with Water

While it may seem somewhat counterproductive, using water to remove water from your ear actually does work in some cases. Tilt your head so the problematic ear faces up, and use an eye dropper to fill your ear with water. Now wait ten seconds and then flip over so the water plugged ear faces down. The stuck and added water should drain out.

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Vinegar and Alcohol Method

Using vinegar and alcohol has the added benefit of keeping bacteria from growing in the ears, which can help prevent ear infections. Mix one part rubbing alcohol with one part vinegar and apply to the inside of the ears with an eye dropper. Do not use more than three or four drops at a time. Gently rub the outer ear. Wait 30 seconds before tilting your head sideways to allow the ear to drain. The alcohol helps to evaporate water, while the vinegar keeps bacteria at bay.

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Jiggle it a Little Bit

Though it may sound strange, jiggling the ear can beak any seal the stuck water may have formed and allow the water trapped in the ear to drain out. After tilting the head to the side, jiggle the earlobe. If this is not enough, shake your head carefully from side to side to dislodge the water.

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Use Gravity

When all else fails, try gravity. Lay on your side with the water plugged ear facing down. Remaining in this position for several minutes can be enough to encourage the water to drain out of the ear.

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Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can help not only drain water from the ears but also remove earwax, bacteria, and debris. Place four drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide into the ear canal. Wait about three minutes, then tilt your head to the side with the plugged ear facing down to allow the water to drain. Never use this method if you have or suspect that you have a perforated eardrum, an ear infection, or tympanostomy (ear) tubes.

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Olive Oil

Like hydrogen peroxide, olive oil could help both remove water from the ear and prevent infections. Warm olive oil up in a bowl until it is lukewarm. Make sure the oil is not any hotter than this, and then place a few drops in the plugged ear. Lay down on your side, affected ear up, and allow 10 minutes for the olive oil to do its work. The, tilt the ear down to allow the water to drain.

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Hot Compress

When water is trapped in the Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to a cavity just behind the nose, a hot compress can provide relief. Soak a washcloth in warm water and squeeze out most of the water. Apply the cloth to the plugged ear and leave it in place for about 30 seconds, then remove it. Do this five to six times. Afterward, sit up or lay down on the opposite side to help the water drain.

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Yawn or Chew

When water is trapped in the eustachian tubes, chewing or yawning can help to resolve the issue by reducing the tension in these tubes. Yawning works best, but if this fails, try chewing some gum. Afterward, tilt your head to the side to help the water flow out of your ear canal.

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Over-the-Counter Ear Drops

Over-the-counter ear drops, designed to help eliminate water from your ears, can be a practical solution for ear water issues. These drops break down the surface tension of the water, making it easier to evaporate. Always read and follow the package instructions carefully to ensure safe usage. Remember, it's vital not to use these drops if you have a perforated eardrum or if you suspect an ear infection, as it could exacerbate the situation.

woman putting on drops AntonioGuillem / Getty Images

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The Tilt and Blow Dryer Method

The tilt and blow dryer method can also be effective in eliminating water from your ears. Start by holding a blow dryer about 12 inches away from your ear, ensuring it's on the lowest heat setting. Next, tilt your head so the affected ear faces the dryer, and allow the warm air to blow gently into your ear for about 30 seconds. This method leverages the warmth to promote evaporation of the trapped water. Always be cautious not to get the dryer too close, as you don't want to risk burning your skin or ear canal.

Girl hairdresser holding fan in hand nerudol / Getty Images

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Using a Humidifier

Using a humidifier can also prove beneficial when dealing with water trapped in the ears. Sit near the humidifier and breathe in the steam it produces. The humidifier's warm, moist air helps open the Eustachian tubes, which in turn promotes water drainage from your ears. In addition to this, the process of inhaling steam can relieve the uncomfortable pressure that often accompanies water-logged ears.

Humidifier on the table in the living room. puhimec / Getty Images

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The Toynbee Maneuver

The Toynbee Maneuver, although less commonly known, can be effective for some. The technique involves swallowing while your nostrils are pinched closed. You can do this by taking a sip of water, closing your nose, and then swallowing the water. This action might aid in clearing water from your ears by helping to open up the Eustachian tubes, allowing trapped water to drain.

pinching ear ozgurdonmaz / Getty Images

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Prevention Tips

Prevention is often the best strategy when it comes to water in the ears. When swimming or washing your hair, consider using earplugs or a swimming cap to prevent water from entering your ears. After exposure to water, make a habit of drying your ears immediately using a towel or hair dryer on a low heat setting. This can greatly reduce the chances of water getting trapped in your ears.

Man putting silicone ear plugs Jovanmandic / Getty Images

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When to Seek Medical Help

If you've tried numerous remedies and still can't drain the water from your ears, or if you experience persistent discomfort or pain, it's time to seek medical help. Water that stays trapped in the ear canal can lead to infections, like swimmer's ear. Being aware of the symptoms that require medical attention and being open to discussing potential treatments with your healthcare provider are critical steps to ensure your ear health.

doctor checking ear jacoblund / Getty Images

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.