How to Remove Water From Your Ear

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When water gets in your ears, it must be removed to avoid unpleasant feelings as well as potential infection. Get your watery visitor down the ear canal with help from a practicing doctor in this free video.

Part of the Video Series: Ears 101
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Video Transcript

Hi. I'm Dr. David Hill, and today we're going to talk about how to remove water from your ear. Now, this is a subject very dear to me because I used to be a swimmer, and nothing annoyed me more than having ears full of water. I never did get used to that; it's a really unpleasant sensation. There are, however, some ways to effectively get water out of your ear if you're having a tough a time with that, especially after swimming or bathing or showering, you've just got that annoying stuff in there. The most simple way to go about it is obviously to lean over. You want gravity to work with you, but while you're leaning over pull back a little bit on the ear. It might even be easier to reach around the back of your head and pull with the opposite hand. What that does, the ear canal is a little bent, it's got a little kink in it, and when you pull back on that ear--on this outer part of the ear, called the pinna--that straightens the ear canal out, and often water that was trapped on the other side of that bend now has a clear shot to get out. Now another thing you can do that is really straightforward is just get a hairdryer. You can put it on a cool setting, so you don't risk burning yourself, and just kind of use that air to dry up the water that's in the ear. It may take a little while, but you don't necessarily have to dry all of it up. Even if you get the drop a little smaller, it may come out on its own. Now, you can very carefully wick water out of the ear. You might just use a corner of a towel or tissue, but you want to be really careful sticking stuff in there. You don't want to go sticking a whole bunch of things in there, both because you could injure the eardrum--which is a very serious problem if it occurs--but also because you can scratch or scrape or introduce an infection into the outer ear and cause an outer ear infection called an otitis externa. However, if you want to just lay gently the tip of a paper towel or a tissue or some toilet paper right at the edge of the ear canal, you can often use that as a wick to bring the water right out. Now, if you have a sensation of water in your ear, but you have no idea why it's there - you haven't been swimming, you don't remember getting water in your ear - you might actually have a middle ear infection, or even an outer ear infection. You might want to have a doctor look in there with an otoscope to figure out what's going on and what needs to be done about it. Talking about removing fluid from the ear, I'm Dr. David Hill.

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