Should Swimmers Shake Water Out of Their Ears?

If water gets caught in your ear after a swim, jumping up and down will help get it out, but only if you've tilted your head and pulled on the ear so that the canal is at an angle for water to run out, says Ted Epperly, president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "Hopping up and down only increases the gravitational force by which that will come out," Epperly says. Other solutions include Q-tips and using a hairdryer on a low setting.

But if you have pain, prolonged blockage or long-term congestion, get it checked out: Leaving water trapped in the ear canal can be dangerous. It makes the skin inside become soggy, and a cut can allow bacteria from contaminated water to infect the outer ear and ear canal, resulting in acute otitis externa, or swimmer's ear. That causes symptoms ranging from severe pain, itchiness, swelling and fullness in and around the ear, to pus and decreased hearing. It can be prevented by leaving foreign objects out of your ear, not swimming in polluted water—and by keeping your ears as dry as possible.