Following a shower and, particularly in summer, a swim in the pool or the sea, the feeling of water in the ears is something we can all experience and may often lead to a muffled ear sensation. Usually, though, this lasts a short time without any longer-term consequences. However, on those occasions the water does not come out of the ears correctly, it may remain there for days and cause problems such as ear inflammation.
Characterized by a rustling noise through the ear canal and gurgling sounds in the eardrum, the sensation of a muffled ear caused by the presence of water stuck in the ear is common. Noises in the ears can be annoying and can lead to other non-related ailments such as insomnia. Normally, the ear should reopen after a short time so that the water can drain and often just shaking or tilting the head is sufficient for it to come out.
In some cases, though, the water is stuck in the ear for days and the unpleasant sensation of muffling in the ear persists. Since water, salt and chlorine can destroy the protective film of the ear, the overall health of the ear is put at risk, thereby increasing exposure to pathogens which may even lead to an inflammation of the duct, as in swimmer's ear. What can you do to drain the water and avoid these problems?
During a shower, bath or through swimming, water may accumulate in the ear. The water flows into your ear duct and can sometimes generate a characteristic muffled sound. This is because water floods the ear canal and settles inside the ear. It works its way through the slightly sloping ear canal down into the eardrum itself, trapping water behind the eardrum. Due to this trapped water, the eardrum is unable to move properly and no longer transmits sound effectively. This is why you may only hear muffled noises, all the while, accompanied by a low gurgle.
Should the sensation of muffled ear persist, it may be that earwax inside the ear canal has absorbed some of the water, swelling in size and is now occluding the ear. If the pain doesn’t subside within a couple of days, this may be the sign of an ear canal infection and an appointment with a GP or ENT specialist is advised.
Water in ears can cause ear infections. Pain and itching in the ear may indicate an infection caused by germs in the water. In the event of such symptoms, your ENT specialist may prescribe an antibiotic if necessary and also remove the remaining water from the ear. Failure to treat these warning signs can, in a worst-case scenario, lead to permanent hearing loss.
Known as swimmer's ear or surfer’s ear, this inflammation manifests the following symptoms:
In babies and children, ear inflammation caused by water entry can develop more rapidly because their Eustachian tube is shorter and narrower and their immune systems have yet to become as strong as an adult’s. Therefore, if water containing germs flows into the baby's ear and keeps the ear canal moist, otitis media can quickly develop.
Tympanic effusion, instead, is when liquid forms inside the ear and collects behind the eardrum. Most cases of tympanic effusion cause pain in the affected person and are more common in young children. All should be treated quickly as they can lead to pain and decreased hearing.
If these tips do not help and the water in your ear still doesn’t drain away, then you should urgently make an appointment with your ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist, who will drain you ear and dry the ear canal. If the ears are often and repeatedly under water for a prolonged time, fluid gets deep inside the ear, right up to the eardrum and multiples complications and diseases can develop.
To this end, it is also essential to dry the ear out quickly. If someone has had water in their ears for several days, then their earwax may have already swelled up. This should also be removed by an ENT specialist in order to be able to hear fully again.
Do you experience hearing loss after getting water stuck in your ear? Or would you like in general to test your hearing capabilities? Then come to one of +300 Amplifon clinics in Australia to attend a free hearing test.