Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"How do I get water out of my ear?"

ZocdocAnswersHow do I get water out of my ear?


I went swimming yesterday and still have water in my ear! I tried shaking my head and laying on my side but it won't come out. Is this dangerous? How can I get it out?


Sorry to hear that you got water in your ear while swimming, and that it is still bothering you. I understand that it can be very frustrating, as this has happened to me before. First of all you never want to use Q-tips to dry or remove anything from your ears. They can potentially injure the canal or ear drum, and can push any wax that ma be present deeper and up against the ear drum (tympanic membrane). I like to think about removing water from the ear as a series of steps, each getting potentially more invasive or aggressive. First I recommend just attempting to tilt your head, or lay on the affected side and see if gravity does the job (sounds like you already tried this). If that doesn't work, I would tilt again, and then try to manipulate the pinna (outer ear) by pushing in the tragus (small cartilage in front of the ear canal), or pulling on the lobule (soft part that is usually pierced). This may help break the surface tension of the water that is trapped in your canal and cause it to drain out. Some try using a blow dryer at low settings pointed at the ear a safe distance away (but make sure you don't burn yourself). Lastly a mixture of 50:50 white vinegar and isopropyl alcohol can be made and a few drops put in the affected ear with a dropper. Of course you wouldn't want to do this if you have a cut/abrasion in the canal (the alcohol will hurt), or if you have a hole in your ear drum. If this doesn't work, then I would recommend making an appointment to seen an ENT (Ears Nose Throat) doctor to get your ears checked out. Best of luck.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.