How Long Can Water Stay in Your Ear and How to Get it Out?

Last Updated: February 24, 2023

Water can stay in the ear for several hours up to one or two days at most. Your ear will naturally remove some water on its own. Still, you could experience an ear infection if you don’t get all of it out quick enough.

Water in the ear can be painful. You’ll want to know how to get it out as soon as possible, as well as how long it takes for it to come out naturally.

Overall, you shouldn’t have to worry about infection unless the water stays in your ear for too long.

How To Get Water Out of Ear

get water out of ear

If you have water in your ear after swimming or diving, there are a few ways for you to suction it out on your own. It’s always a good idea to try these methods at home before you see a doctor.

1. Let the Water Drain Naturally

First, you can get gravity to do the work for you. Place a towel on your pillow and way down with the affected ear against the towel. If the water isn’t too deep, it should come out naturally after a few minutes.

If you still have water in your ear when bedtime comes around, you can fall asleep with the affected ear against your pillow. Sometimes when you wake up, the water will have come out of your ear during the night.

Overall, this is the simplest method, so it’s worth giving it a shot.

2. Gently Shake it Out

When you first notice water in your ear, you’ll want to try to shake it out gently. To do this, start by gently grabbing your earlobe and pulling it to open your ear more. Hold the affected ear downwards and gently shake your head up and down.

Often this motion is enough to remove water from your ear if it’s not too deep. If you do it quickly enough, you may not even feel any agitation in your ear.

However, scuba divers may have trouble getting it out as the water could have drifted deeper and blocked their ears during the underwater activities.

3. Use Warmth

You can also use warmth to help evaporate the water. Turn a hairdryer on low, gently pull on your earlobe, and allow the warm air to enter your ear. Make sure that you move the hairdryer back and forth as you do this, so you don’t burn your skin. Even just 30 seconds of hot air can be effective at managing trapped water.

Instead of a hairdryer, you could also use a warm towel or a hot pack. Simply lay down with the warm object against your affected ear and the side of your face. The extra heat can help soothe pain in the ear as well as evaporate the water faster.

4. Dry Out the Air

Additionally, you can try to dry out the air to remove some moisture from your ears too. Air conditioners are known for drying out the air so you could also run one in your room to try to dry the air out even more.

If you use humidifiers at home, you should turn them off until all the water in your ear is completely gone. These machines can make the water evaporate slower.

Or better yet, you could use an ear dryer like this one that is made for this very specific purpose.

What Happens if You Leave Water in Your Ear for Too Long?

If you leave water in your ear for too long, you may experience an ear infection. An infection is going to happen when the trapped moisture contains bacteria that start to grow and multiply. If your ear feels inflamed and painful, then you need to see a doctor! It’s best not to wait.

You may also experience:

  • An itchy ear
  • Pain near the eardrum
  • Liquid draining from the ear

The longer the water is in your ear, the worse the infection can become. You’ll want to try to remove the water as soon as you take notice of it. One of the first signs of liquid trapped in the ear is that sounds feel muffled.

Can Water Get Permanently Stuck in Your Ear?

Don’t worry, water cannot get permanently stuck in your ear. Your body can remove water naturally when it mixes with earwax.

Depending on how much ear wax your body produces and the shape of your inner ear, the water could stay for just a few hours. However, most people can expect the water to sit in your ear for one to two days.

No matter what, water can’t permanently stay inside your ear. It should happen naturally, but you can help the process along with the swimmer’s ear drops.

Final Thoughts

When scuba diving, You should take extra care to protect your ears and the best way not to let any water get stuck in your ear in the first place is prevention. Using a dive mask with ear covers may do the trick.

Anyway, in most cases water can evaporate from your ear naturally. If it doesn’t, you could experience an ear infection and temporary hearing loss.

If you have had ear pain for more than 24 hours, you should see your doctor!

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