Water in ears - Home Remedy?

Technically, I’ve got water in my eustachian tube, and not my ear canal. It’s been in there since I went snorkeling 6 days ago. Needless to say, it’s starting to drive me a little batty.

It’s salt water, but otherwise very clean - and yes, St John is beautiful this time of year. No earaches or infections yet, but I suspect the longer this water is in there, the greater the risk of infection. Google produces a lot of informational pages about earaches in school children - not much use to a 32 year old engineer.

Presumably my condition will correct itself in time. But if anybody has any home remedies for clearing water out of your eustachian tube, I’d really appreciate it. Has anyone invented the nano-Q-Tip yet? Thanks…

Mother Home Remedy.

Stand at the end of the bed or next to a chair and grab the footboard or chair back for balance. Turn your head so the ear with water is facing down. Vigorously shake your opposing leg as high off the ground as is comfortable. Do this several times an hour. When you sleep the water should drain.

Yes! There is a cheap home remedy. When I was a child, my pediatrician instructed my mother to use this concoction to prevent swimmer’s ear.
It was great for drying up the water that remained in the ear after being submerged in water.

2 parts white vinegar
1 part Isopropyl rubbing alcohol.

drop several drops into your ear, let sit for 30 to 60 seconds, then let it drain.
repeat with other ear.
In your case, you may want to do this a couple of times a day until you feel like the water has dried up.

Obligatory IANAD disclaimer. You may want to talk to your doc or a nurse.

You can also just use straight rubbing alcohol. They sell a “Swimmer’s Ear” type of tube in most pharmacies, except the label says it’s 95% rubbing alcohol. I use that most of the time. Just put a couple of drops in then turn your head and it should go away. I get this all the time when I swim and hate it.

An antihistamine might reduce any inflammation in the tube and allow it to drain.

I use a similar concoction except I reverse the proportions for each ingredient. The alcohol is used for its drying properties, so you want more of that. The vinegar is only there to help control fungal and whatnot growth and is less impotant.


I swim about five times a week, so I have this problem a lot. I find it helps to lie down on your side and tilt your nose slightly more downward than the rest of your head–I use a pillow so I don’t end up mashing my nose into my bed. Note: by downward, I mean towards the ground, not angling your nose towards your feet.

If the water’s really in your eustachian tube, a steroid-based nasal spray might help. I had what my doctor termed “eustachian tube dysfunction” earlier this year and was prescribed Flonase, which worked wonders.

Your OP stated that the water was “in my eustachian tube, and not my ear canal”. Since the Eustachian is on the inside of the eardrum, most of the suggestions so far would be ineffective (although alcohol is always appealing, if applied correctly… :slight_smile: )

I second the recommendation of Ca3799 for an antihistamine, but add that this might also merit a visit to your MD. Onging problems with the workings of the inner ear can be serious, leading to permanent vertigo and/or deafness.

Hmm - Flonaise. By an amazing coincidence, I have a new, unopened sample spray bottle of Flonaise I got from an ENT-MD a few months ago. I used the first bottle, and never opened the second. I’ll give that a try and hope for the best. If that doesn’t work, I’ll check with a professional (no offense, y’all) on Friday. 10 days is long enough to deal with this.

Hey - swimmers/skin divers: Do they make ear plugs specifically designed to stop water, and maybe even the inner ear pain from deep dives? Applying counterpressure by plugging my nose and mouth and blowing didn’t always work. Thanks…

Don’t know if you could use them for diving, but they do make swimmers ear plugs. They are basically made of wax and you put them over the ear hole and not in the hole. I have tried using them from time to time in open water but they seem to fall out after an hour or so. You would really want to look at the directions to see what they may or may not do under pressure. I know they say don’t wear swimming goggles for diving.

IANAS/SD but the problem seems to be one of physics. High pressure on one side of the eardrum, low pressure on the other -> ear pain / ruptured eardrum unless the pressures can be equalized. Part of the problem is that the pressure is changing more quickly than the body can accommodate it naturally. I doubt that anything short of a “hard hat” is going to be able to give you much protection by being applied to the outer ear. Increasing pressure would just force any earplug deeper into the canal, maintaining or exacerbating the problem.

The counterpressure trick is the time-honoured solution, but if you have problems with your eustachian tubes (or have a cold or hay fever) then the effort to apply counterpressure may, in fact, force [yuk] mucous material into the inner ear, [/yuk] which is not a desirable situation.

Further on tube clearing: the muscles that open your eustachian tubes are like any other muscle - they can be exercised to be more effective. Finding the muscles is tricky (try wiggling your ears or jutting your jaw), but once you find them, exercise them regularly to keep them toned and working more efficiently.

If it were water in the eustachian tube, it would drain pretty fast… since it’s runny. If the middle ear is full of fluid and the tubes were blocked (by swelling or thick mucus), that would cause a low-hearing problem.

The nano-Q-Tip thing makes me wonder if the OP wants something that would go up the back of throat and swab out the inside of his ear that way. :slight_smile: Yikes.

What I would like to know is if water can pass through the ear drum. I always imagined “no”. What’s the dope on that?


Nah, the nano-Q-tip was just a bit-o-humor, of course. Although as I approach my 7th day with this, I’d be willing to consider almost anything. :o) We’ll see if the Flonaise works…

(shaking right leg high in the air with eustachian tube groundward) “Out, damnit! Get out!!”

I checked the Web’s best source of home remedies never to be tried under any circumstances, the Household Cyclopedia. Since swimming was considered immoral and bad for the liver and bowels or something (well, that’s not what they said, but it’s as right as whatever they did think) before 1920, they don’t have anything about swimmer’s ear, but they do have this helpful home remedy for inflammation of the ear:

A little warm olive oil or glycerin with an equal part of laudanum, dropped into the ear, and retained there by a piece of wool or cotton, will frequently procure almost instant relief.

Laudanum is a solution of opium in alcohol, and it was the universal remedy to essentially every medical problem before the invention of medicine that actually worked; it is now illegal.

When I get this, which is pretty much every time I leave the water, I shake my head 90 deg to the side that has the water and stop quickly. Repeating this a few times has cleared it up every single time.

The tricks used to unblock the eustachion tube during colds and infections should work here.

Use a nasal decongestant (Afrin nasal spray, or Neo-Synephrine) and sniff it in very deeply, it’s got to hit the back of your throat and nasal passages. Also use a non-medicated saline nasal spray to keep the membranes moist (since all these de-congestants might dry things out too much).

Take an over the counter decongestant (pseudofed) and an antihistamine (chlor-trimeton, aka chlorpheniramine maleate) and a anti-inflammatory agent (aspirin or ibuprofen). This should really open things up.

Do a lot of yawning, heavy gulping of water, and non-medicated steam inhalation (Vicks Personal Steam Inhaler)

Read all the warnings on the OTC medications and use a directed. None of these should ever be used on a regular, continuing bases without a doctor’s supervision.