How to Remove Fluid in Ears

Two Parts:Home RemediesGeneral Practices and Guidelines

Fluid in the ears can go from being mildly annoying to permanently damaging if an infection goes untreated for too long. Fluids usually get caught in the Eustachian tubes, which is a part of the inner ear. Some fluid clears on its own through home remedies while other fluid requires medical intervention. Knowing how to remove fluid in ears will help you ensure your ears are healthy and able to function for years to come.

Part 1
Home Remedies

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    First, try to dislodge the fluid with ordinary items or methods. If you're out and about and you don't have any other ingredients and/or tools with you, try these techniques for removing fluid caught in your ear.
    • Put your finger in your ear and try to create a vacuum. Try putting your index finger in your ear and moving the index finger gently upwards. Ears are shaped differently, so this may take a bit of finessing. Move your finger around gently until you have created a vacuum. Try to suction the fluid out of your ear.
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    • Try releasing the pressure with a gentle Valsalva maneuver. Take a breath, hold your mouth closed, plug you nose closed with two fingers, and force air up the Eustachian tubes by blowing. Tilt your head downward, with the problem ear facing toward the ground. You will feel a pop if the technique works.
    • Stand on one foot and tilt the side of your head that has the fluid caught in it. Hop on your one foot, keeping your head tilted toward the floor. Hop slowly, being careful not to tip over.
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    Prepare a mixture of half vinegar and half isopropyl alcohol. Mix the vinegar and alcohol together and soak up solution into an eye-dropper. Put a few drops into the ear with the water and wait. Isopropyl alcohol and water are highly soluble in one another; the alcohol helps speed along the evaporation of the water in your ear.
    • The vinegar and alcohol solution will also help break up any waxy residue that might be keeping the fluid from exiting.
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    Chew on gum, food, or make the chewing motion without gum or food. Chewing or pretending to chew often opens up the Eustachian tubes. Try chewing or yawning while your head is tilted to free up your Eustachian tubes and let gravity do its work.
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    Rest your head on a pillow or go to sleep with your ear turned downward. Lie down on your side, with the ear that has fluid caught in it resting on a pillow. Gravity can help force the fluid out of the ear.
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    Use a blow-drier to get air into your ear. Get a blow-drier, turn it to its lowest setting and, keeping the blow-drier far enough away from your ear, send some air into your ear. The air can help dry up some of the fluid that is caught in the ear.
    • Never use a high (warm) setting, and always keep your blow-drier far enough away from your ear. Getting water out of your ear isn't worth the injury you might sustain doing this.

Part 2
General Practices and Guidelines

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    Dry ears thoroughly with a towel if pool or hot tub water got in them. Make sure your outer ears are clean and as dry as possible. Try resting with a heating pad (turned on low or medium) close to your ear.
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    Understand the causes of middle ear fluid in the ears so you can try to prevent it from occurring in the future. These causes include allergies, sinus infections and colds, overgrown or infected adenoids, tobacco smoke or other environmental irritants, and in young children, excess saliva and mucus produced while teething.
    • If you are prone to fluid developing in your middle ear, knowing the causes can help you take precautions to prevent colds, allergies and other triggers for sinus issues that lead to ear problems. Be more attentive when it comes to hand-washing, sanitizing phones or equipment you share with co-workers, and staying away from smoky places. Also if certain things trigger serious allergies, do what you can to stay away from them or be more persistent about taking your allergy medication.
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    Allow the infection to clear up on its own at which time the fluid should automatically begin to drain. In the meantime, if you encounter pain in the ear, you can relieve it by placing a warm cloth or warm water bottle on the affected ear. Ear drops designed to relieve pain can also help as can over-the-counter pain and fever relief medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen
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    Consult your physician for fluid that won't clear up using alcohol-based ear drops or over-the-counter medications. She will probably prescribe a protocol of stronger decongestants and antibiotics to clear up infection and allow the fluid to drain, usually happening in 10 days or less. Sometimes stronger medications are required for an additional week or so.
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    Opt for surgery if the fluid can't be removed any other way. This is especially true for children who have persistent fluid issues from recurring colds and ear infections, but adults can also experience fluid that won't clear up by using medication.
    • In children, the Eustachian tubes are often underdeveloped, causing some children to have problems with fluid not draining off as it normally should following a cold or upper respiratory infection. The doctor will make an incision in the eardrums to insert tubes into the inner ear to drain the fluid until the Eustachian tubes are more developed, usually six months, sometimes longer.
    • Tubes may also be used for adults, but usually only for four to six weeks, considerably less than in children. Once the fluid had drained, the tubes are removed, often during a regular office visit, at which time the eardrum heals quickly.


  • Water getting in the ear from bath time or swimming doesn't cause fluid build-up in the ears unless there was a hole in the eardrum from a previous fluid issue or other health issue.
  • If ear fluid and infections are a persistent problem in your home, you can purchase an electronic ear monitor from the local pharmacy that can detect the fluid. While you still need to call the doctor to rule out infection, it helps to be able to check at home before running to the doctor when you just suspect fluid is present.


  • Sticking cotton swabs or other foreign objects into your ears might temporarily relieve itching or pain, but it could damage the eardrum or cause water on the outside of the eardrum to be forced further into the ear where it could become infected.

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Categories: Cleaning Ears