Healthy Living

Remedies for Fluid Buildup in the Ear

Remedies for Fluid Buildup in the Ear

Fluid Buildup in the Ear

A buildup of fluid in the ear can lead to a painful ear infection, disruption in balance, hearing loss, and headache. This condition is one of the most common problems seen in children. The most common cause of water trapped in the ear is swimming. However, water can get trapped in the ear canal from any water exposure.

You may feel a tickling sensation in your ears that tend to extend to the throat and jawbone when this condition happens. Muffled sounds may also be experienced as well as hearing loss. The trapped water usually drains by itself, but if it doesn't, an ear infection may occur. This type of ear infection is called otitis externa or swimmer's ear

Below are 10 remedies that can help get rid of fluid buildup in the ear:

1. Steam Treatment

One remedy you can use at home is steaming. You can use a warm towel and a bowl of warm water near the affected ear to open the Eustachian tube and help the fluid escape. The Eustachian tube is a tube that connects the nasopharynx to the middle ear. 

For this remedy, you will need to prepare a bowl that has boiling water and a towel. Cover your head with the towel and carefully position your ear over the steam bath. Anti-inflammatory essential oils, such as tea tree oil and chamomile can also be added to the steam bath. The safest duration of steam treatment is usually 10-15 minutes. A steam shower can also help loosen the fluid in your ear. 

2. Decongestants and Other Medications

Decongestants that can be bought over-the-counter can also help relieve ear pain by unblocking your ear passage. After taking a decongestant, try lying down on your side, particularly the side of your ear where fluid has accumulated, to help the escape of trapped fluids. 

When using certain medications for your ear infection, ensure that you use a sterilized eyedropper when applying the medication to the ear canal. For safe treatment, follow the instructions provided in the packaging. Do not use cotton buds or any other sharp instruments to break the fluid buildup in your ear to avoid potentially damaging your ear and impair your hearing. 

3. Gravity Ear Drain

An ear draining procedure is usually performed by your healthcare provider. However, you can achieve temporary relief at home by using the law of gravity. To help drain out the fluid from the affected ear, tilt your head or lie down on the side of the affected ear. Carefully move your head back and forth to encourage the ear canal to open. If this remedy does not work, use the combination of decongestant intake and steam. 

4. Blow Dryer

The idea for this remedy is that the application of warm dry air will turn water into steam, and encourage the escape of trapped fluid in the ear. For this remedy, your hair dryer must run on the lowest heat and blow setting with a distance of at least a foot away from the affected ear. 

Using this remedy is still a topic of debate, and may not work in all people with fluid buildup in the ear. It is still important to consult a healthcare provider if you are experiencing ear pain or a potential ear infection. Special instruments and medications are available at the doctor's office. 

5. DIY Ear Drops

To make a DIY ear drop solution, combine 1 part white vinegar and 1 part rubbing alcohol. To carefully administer the solution, use a sterilized eyedropper. Apply 3-4 drops of the solution to the affected ear. The solution is antibacterial and acts as a drying agent that can help break down ear wax. 

Although these ingredients are natural and safe, a doctor's visit is still recommended to professionally examine your ear problem. A fluid buildup in the ear can be due to serious ear problems, such as inner ear infections. If ear infections are left untreated or improperly treated, the risk of developing eardrum damage, chronic ear infections, and hearing loss also increases. 

6. Hot Compress

A hot compress can help release trapped water in the eustachian tubes. For this remedy, you will need a warm washcloth. On the side of the affected ear, carefully tilt your head downward and place the warm washcloth outside of your ear for 30 seconds. You may repeat this remedy 4-5 times a day until you achieve relief. 

7. Humidifier

Upper respiratory tract infections can get worse in dry air. Dry air can also prevent the fluid buildup in your ear to drain. To improve sinus health and help the fluid from the ear to come out, use a humidifier in your bedroom, particularly on the side of your bed to encourage the flow of steam near your affected ear. Aside from using a humidifier, you can also take a hot shower, sit in a steam room, or have sauna sessions. 

The air during winter can be extremely dry, so using humidifiers during the winter season can be beneficial. Individuals with allergies can also use humidifiers to help relieve allergy symptoms. 

8. Chew or Yawn

The chewing motion actually helps encourage the inner ear tubes to open. If you have trapped fluid in your ear, try yawning or chewing on gum or other types of food. As you chew, tilt your affected ear down to let the trapped fluid flow outward. Pinching your nose and yawning or chewing at the same time also helps. 

9. Olive Oil

Using olive oil can help repel water out and prevent an ear infection. For this remedy, you will need warm olive oil in a small bowl. Using a sterilized eyedropper, place a few drops of olive oil into the affected ear. Try to lie on your other side and wait for 10 minutes before sitting up and tilting the affected ear downward. Oil and water should drain out. 

10. More Water

Filling a clogged ear with more water may sound unreasonable, but it can actually help drain the fluid buildup out of the ears. To do this remedy, you will need to lie down on your side. Fill the affected ear with water using a clean eyedropper. Turn over after five seconds with the affected ear facing down to let all of the water drain out. 

See Your Doctor

Although the above-mentioned home remedies can help relieve a clogged ear, it is still important to see your doctor if you suspect an ear infection. Doctors have the right instruments to properly remove trapped fluid in the ear. They can also prescribe medications to help treat ear infections. 

Key Takeaways

  • A buildup of fluid in the ear can lead to a painful ear infection, disruption in balance, hearing loss, and headache.
  • The most common cause of water trapped in the ear is swimming. However, water can get trapped in the ear canal from any water exposure.
  • The trapped water usually drains by itself, but if it doesn't, an ear infection may occur. This type of ear infection is called otitis externa or swimmer's ear.