Summer is for splashing around in water, whether it’s a pool, river, lake or ocean. While it may feel great to take a refreshing dive, you can harm your ears if water becomes trapped in them. Follow our tips below to help drain water out of the ears and prevent risk of infection.
What Are the Risks of Water in the Ears?
While water in the ears is not particularly dangerous, it can cause a painful infection known as swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear occurs when water becomes trapped in the ear and causes bacteria to grow. Initial symptoms are mild and may include itchiness, redness, discomfort and drainage, but left untreated it can cause repeated ear infections, bone and cartilage damage and even permanent hearing loss.
Tips for Removing Water from Ears
There are many ways you can help drain or dry water in the ears. If you don’t have success with one method, you can try another.
- Tilt your head so the affected ear is facing down. Gently tug on the earlobe to help open the ear canal.
- Move your jaw by chewing gum or yawning. Keeping your head tilted will help the water work its way out.
- Open your Eustachian tubes by taking a breath, pinching your nose, closing your mouth and gently exhaling.
- Lie on your side with your affected ear resting on a soft cotton towel.
- Cup your palm of your ear and push and release it to create a gentle suction.
- Use a hairdryer on the lowest setting to dry out the water.
- Apply hydrogen peroxide drops, but only if you do not have an ear infection, perforated eardrum or ear tubes.
Strategies for Prevention
The best thing you can do to prevent water from entering the ears and causing complications is wear swim plugs. These can be purchased inexpensively at a drug store or online. You can also purchase custom-molded swim plugs from your audiologist’s office, which offer maximum comfort and protection. They are available in bright colors, and they float for easy retrieval if they become dislodged.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the experts at Houston Hearing Center.