Skip

Why do I experience ear pain a few hours after bathing?
May 6, 2012 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Why do I experience ear pain a few hours after bathing?

Since I was a kid, I've been getting ear pain not long after bathing. I don't always get this ear pain, but it appears very, very frequently; about one in every four baths I take result in me getting ear pain afterwards. The pain tends to occur more frequently in my left ear than my right. The pain doesn't bother me as much as the temporary hearing loss that accompanies the ear pain because, usually, the only time I can feel pain in my ear when I'm experiencing this problem is when I pull on my earlobe. But I listen to music with headphones on very often, and it's annoying to hear music more clearly in one ear than the other.

I have a feeling that this ear pain is caused by soap-water getting into my ear when I stick my head under water to rinse my face off, or perhaps due to hair getting into my ears after I've shaved my face (I shave in the bath). Could soap-water and/or facial hair getting into my ear be the cause this? I make sure to rinse my ears well when I'm underwater, but I dunno. . . . I've a feeling that if I started taking showers, this problem would stop. But I unfortunately can't take showers . . .

Anyway, the problem is a little concerning. I have no clue if this problem could eventually lead to permanent hearing loss. I'll make sure to see a doctor about this sometime soon, but I'd still like to see what you have to say.

Thanks.
posted by GlassHeart to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
 
How long does the ear pain last? Also, how often do you bathe? By "bathing" do you mean every time you shower or take a bath, or are you ONLY referring to baths?

This sounds to me like classic signs of an ear infection, which is pretty common for some people after immersing their head under water (swimming or taking baths). Have you ever been check out and/or treated for this?

Baths in general, other than sitz baths and hospital bathing, aren't really all that great for you. The water gets pretty gross, and that grossness gets into all manner of sensitive places and can cause imbalances and infections. My doctor actually told me to stop taking baths as a way to avoid the BV/yeast infection cycle. You should see your doctor.
posted by two lights above the sea at 10:20 AM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, since you specifically welcome anecdata:

My father had a career in the (US) Coast Guard. As a result of this he (and I as a kid growing up) spent quite a bit of time submerged in water. He taught me this tip to clear my ears after being in the water, and it works for me and hopefully it will work for you, if I can describe it articulately enough (I'm realizing now this is much more easy to demonstrate than describe):

When you come out of the water, what you do is basically grimace (set your teeth together and squeeze your face shut and open your lips), then take a deep breath and exhale strongly through your mouth (your whole face, really) while rapidly and vigorously shaking your head back and forth (side-to-side as if saying, "NONONONONO!!!"). Believe it or not some of the air you're exhaling will come out of your ears and force the water out. Be sure to wipe up your ears afterwards.
posted by trip and a half at 10:34 AM on May 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


swimmer's ear?

there are eardrops you can get for that.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:45 AM on May 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


two lights above the sea: How long does the ear pain last? Also, how often do you bathe? By "bathing" do you mean every time you shower or take a bath, or are you ONLY referring to baths?

It tends to last a day. I tend to have a bath everyday, but refrain from bathing when I have ear pain.

I don't shower.

Have you ever been check out and/or treated for this?

No.
posted by GlassHeart at 11:56 AM on May 6, 2012


The easiest way to tell if it's swimmer's ear/an infection is to go to a Minute Clinic (or equivalent) and ask them to look in your ears while you're experiencing the symptoms.

Odds are the water is getting trapped by ear wax, BTW. Minute Clinic clears out my ears as part of the ear infection check (and it's always insane - they think part of why I'm prone to ear infections is my ear wax issues.)

DO NOT attempt to clear this out with any kind of poking, burning objects. Hydrogen peroxide drops into your ears and visiting a nurse practitioner are your solution, not poking or digging or scraping or burning or any variations on that theme.
posted by SMPA at 12:02 PM on May 6, 2012


trip and a half: Okay, since you specifically welcome anecdata:

My father had a career in the (US) Coast Guard. As a result of this he (and I as a kid growing up) spent quite a bit of time submerged in water. He taught me this tip to clear my ears after being in the water, and it works for me and hopefully it will work for you, if I can describe it articulately enough (I'm realizing now this is much more easy to demonstrate than describe):

When you come out of the water, what you do is basically grimace (set your teeth together and squeeze your face shut and open your lips), then take a deep breath and exhale strongly through your mouth (your whole face, really) while rapidly and vigorously shaking your head back and forth (side-to-side as if saying, "NONONONONO!!!"). Believe it or not some of the air you're exhaling will come out of your ears and force the water out. Be sure to wipe up your ears afterwards.


Awesome tip. I'll be sure to try this out next time I have a bath.
posted by GlassHeart at 12:03 PM on May 6, 2012


Ugh. I knew I would screw that up somehow. Take the deep breath BEFORE you do the grimacing/shaking/snorting thing. And, since I can't actually show you how to do it, think about a wet dog shaking off the water -- this is what you want to do with your head.
posted by trip and a half at 1:10 PM on May 6, 2012


trip and a half: "Ugh. I knew I would screw that up somehow. Take the deep breath BEFORE you do the grimacing/shaking/snorting thing. And, since I can't actually show you how to do it, think about a wet dog shaking off the water -- this is what you want to do with your head."

Thanks for unscrewing it up. :)

I'll try your trick out tomorrow when I have a bath. If it doesn't work to prevent ear pain every time, I might start putting a few drops of peroxide into my ears every time I'm done having a bath.
posted by GlassHeart at 1:22 PM on May 6, 2012


Dirty, soapy water is getting trapped inside your ears, probably leading to swimmer's ear or infection. No wonder they hurt.

Do you have a shower head? Try washing your hair/face using the shower head at the end of the bath. Otherwise, get a big cup and use the tap to get clean water and use that to clean your head/face. If that stops the problem, they make shower heads that fit over the bathtub nozzle, like so.
posted by zug at 1:44 PM on May 6, 2012


Believe it or not some of the air you're exhaling will come out of your ears

Unless you're missing an eardrum, I don't believe that part; while the Eustacian tube does lunk the ears and the sinus, it's opening is inside, not outside, the eardrum.

Which is not to say that method isn't effective; also it sounds totally fun both to do and to watch.

I tend to get ear pain after water immersion also, after having had a nasty ear infection ten years ago. The advice my doctor gave me was "well don't do that then". If you have to take baths, maybe you could try swimmers' earplugs?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:07 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Believe it or not some of the air you're exhaling will come out of your ears

Unless you're missing an eardrum, I don't believe that part;


Well, I guess that's why I said the 'believe it or not' part. All I know is I used to get ear pain and infections before I started doing it, and never have since I started doing it. Maybe it's just the shaking, but it honestly feels and sounds to me like air is coming out of my ears. I do think I have eardrums.

(I am not a doctor, and many of the things I say and do make no sense whatsoever.)
posted by trip and a half at 5:10 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rubbing alcohol in the ears will reduce the surface tension of water in the ear and allow it to drain. Swimmers ear drops contain alcohol and glycerin. Might be prudent to try using the drops whenever your head is submerged underwater.
posted by wrnealis at 6:36 PM on May 6, 2012


Would putting peroxide in my ears every time after submerging my head underwater mess my ears up? Because I'm thinking of doing this.

I've read that peroxide can kill good cells in addition to bad ones, so I worry that this could eventually affect my hearing.
posted by GlassHeart at 8:47 PM on May 6, 2012


It's not normal to have ear pain after every fourth bath, go see your doc before you decide to put something else in your ears every day.
posted by desuetude at 7:14 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older My office looks like crap, and...   |  Suggest to me a roadmap for le... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.


Post