How to get water out of a ear/stop ringing
July 18, 2011 8:04 AM   Subscribe

[Water + Ear + Pain + Ringing] YANMD: Jumped/cannonballed into a lake this weekend - the water went down to 10 feet. The moment I was underwater my ear had a sharp pain.

Came out of the water and after 10 minutes or so the sharp pain subsided but I still felt like I had water in my ear and my ear hurt when I turned my head certain ways/if i pushed on my ear. Spent the next few hours trying to ignore my ear, but kept also trying to get the water out (tilting my head, resting on my side with the ear facing down, etc). The "clogged" feeling and pain have mostly subsided but now I have a ringing in my ear. Already had some tinnitus there, but it is much louder now. Has anyone experienced this before? Should I try putting alcohol drops in my ear? Other suggestions? I plan on going to the doctor in the next day or two if "home remedies" do not work - looking for those or "get to the doctor now" warnings. Thanks!
posted by anya32 to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
Yes, go to the doctor. It sounds like you may have ruptured your eardrum, but that's something that will definitely need examination.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 8:13 AM on July 18, 2011

Having played three years of waterpolo in high school, I spent a lot of time with water stuck in my ears. I never had pain. I wouldn't put anything in your ears if you have ear pain and don't know the cause. Have someone look in your ears. During the day you should be able to go to your doctor, or an urgent care center of some sort, or a doc in a box and avoid the emergency room.
posted by Jahaza at 8:16 AM on July 18, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks folks. Made a call to the doctor. She isn't in for 2 more hours but will call me back. I'll make sure I get in today.
posted by anya32 at 8:20 AM on July 18, 2011

The cure for a ruptured eardrum is time (while keeping it dry) anyway, so if it's that you're not gonna die if you have to wait a couple of days to see the doctor.

But of course it'd be better for a doctor to determine that.
posted by palbo at 9:04 AM on July 18, 2011

Forgot to add 'afaik' there, i'm not a doctor and have no idea if there are more serious variations to your stock ruptured eardrum.
posted by palbo at 9:05 AM on July 18, 2011

Try resting your ear on a heating pad on low for a while to loosen the water and wax.
posted by effluvia at 9:39 AM on July 18, 2011

Some people have had luck clearing their ears as a result of irrigating their nose.

These next two are possibly harmful if your drum is perforated . . .

Have you tried holding your nose and blowing, as if to blow your nose?

And I've had some luck putting peroxide in my ears -- lots of differing opinions on that, so IANAD and YMMV, etc, etc.
posted by MeiraV at 12:02 PM on July 18, 2011

Do not gamble with hearing loss! See your doctor and maybe get a referral to an ENT.
posted by Cranberry at 12:32 PM on July 18, 2011

Even if it is a ruptured eardrum, and even supposing that the appropriate treatment is time (while keeping it dry), it is useful to know that it is a ruptured eardrum.

According to the guy who removed mine, a cholesteatoma (skin cells gone wild) can grow past a ruptured eardrum and once in the middle ear, the skin cells don't know when to stop. Normally they flake off the ear canal when they meet the eardrum and get excreted in earwax.

I therefore must have had a ruptured eardrum - and I do remember an incident just like yours (when I was ten), but never saw a doctor.

Fast forward thirty years, and my hearing suddenly cut out in my right ear. The skin cells are corrosive to the ossicles in the ear... so I had to have an op to take out the cholesteatoma, and a second op six months later to rebuild the ossicular chain.

This need not happen to you. And may not anyway.

For twenty years before the hearing cut out, the cholesteatoma had been causing minor problems for years - such as dizziness on flights - that no-one figured out except in retrospect. But they probably would have figured out quicker if they'd been told I had had a ruptured eardrum in the past. And I could have had it addressed much earlier which much less impact.

Not to scare you. But go see a good ear doctor.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 2:25 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks folks! I took your advice and went in. No ruptured eardrum but ringing continues. Antibiotics (hopefully) to the rescue!
posted by anya32 at 11:08 AM on July 19, 2011

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