Water in the ear


When talking about water in the ear, it can mean two fundamentally different phenomena.
For one, it can be a very common phenomenon that can occur when the ear comes into contact with water. This is known to almost everyone who has ever been to the swimming pool: after you emerge from the water, you notice that water has stuck in your ear.

In contrast to this event, in which water from the outside enters the ear, there is also the possibility that this occurs forms inside the ear. More precisely, this is not water at all, but rather a Effusion fluid in the area of ​​the middle ear. Nevertheless, this is, in the technical language as Timpani effusion (also Serotympanon, Mukotympanon or Seromukotympanon) designated phenomenon, colloquially also referred to as "water in the ear".

Water in the ear after swimming

In the by far most common cases water occurs from outside in the ear a. this happens especially when diving in the swimming pool, but can also happen at home when showering or bathing. The penetrating water collects in the elongated outer ear canal and remains there. The external auditory canal is the part of the ear that directs sound inwards towards the eardrum. This is located at the inner end of the outer auditory canal and protects the middle and inner ear behind it from water penetration.
The fact that the ear canal is part of the sound conduction system explains why water in the ear causes the Affected side hearing deteriorates is. Furthermore, the movement of the water in the ear canal can often be felt.
Typically, water remains in the external ear canal without an underlying problem in the ears. However, some conditions can favor the inclusion of water. These include so-called Exostoses, where it is small bony protrusions acts in the area of ​​the external auditory canal. These have no disease value and can be congenital or only developed in the course of life. Although harmless in themselves, these exostoses can cause problems by constricting the ear canal and thereby facilitating the trapping of water that has entered. Same goes for that Cerumen obturans, one Accumulation of large amounts of ear wax (Cerumen) in the ear canal. This partially or completely closes the ear canal and water can accumulate.

What to do if there is water in the ear

If water has entered the ear from the outside and has remained there, there are various ways of getting it out again. So it can be helpful to have the Tilt your head to one side. Sometimes this is enough to move the water outwards, following the force of gravity. If this is not successful, the Head shaken additionally be, or jumped on one leg with head tilted become.
Other options are yourself on the side of the affected ear, or by closing the ear with the palm of your hand and pulling your hand away to apply suction to the ear canal. In the vast majority of cases, these "home remedies" dissolve the stuck water by itself.
However, if all such attempts fail after a long period of time, one must ultimately Consulted a doctor become. This can do that Rinse ear gentlyallowing trapped water to dissolve. If there are large amounts of ear wax, the measure can also help treat the cause, as it loosens the cerumen.

Inflammation from water in the ear

Water penetrating from the outside can cause a Inflammation in the area of ​​the ear canal to lead. This is especially the case when Water remains there for a long time, or not completely returned to the outside. The water softens the skin of the ear canal and the ear wax. The consequence of this is that it becomes easier for pathogens to pass the skin barrier in the area of ​​the ear canal and cause inflammation at this point. Since the external auditory canal is part of the so-called external ear, the disease is called External otitis (Inflammation of the outer ear). Signs of such inflammation can be Pain, swelling, and discharge of pus be. The inflammation then needs medical treatment.

How can I avoid water in my ear?

With regard to water ingress from outside, some preventive action can be taken. This can at least reduce the likelihood of water becoming trapped in the ear. Most important is the hint that you can do it whenever possible avoid should that Clean the ear canal with cotton swabs. Apart from the fact that this can also seriously injure the eardrum, it is still possible that To condense earwax. Instead of removing it from the ear canal, it has the opposite effect: the compact ear wax collects in the ear canal and makes it easier for water that has penetrated to remain there.
To prevent water in the ear while swimming are continued waterproof earplugs available.

Timpani effusion

A tympanic effusion causes fluid to accumulate in the ear.

Separate from water that has penetrated the ear from the outside Fluid that forms inside the ear. Due to their clear appearance, they are similar to water. However, this is Effusion fluid, i.e. fluid that is released from the body and accumulates in a cave. In this case, the cavity is the so-called Tympanic cavity of the middle ear. The middle ear lies against the inside of the eardrum. Its function is to amplify the sound that arrives from the outside via the eardrum and to transmit it to the inner ear. This is where the transmission takes place in the form of nerve impulses that are sent to the brain.


Several factors are involved in the development of a tympanic effusion, but there is basically one Disturbance of the ventilation of the middle ear to go out.
Anatomically, there is a connection between the pharynx and the middle ear, the so-called (ear) trumpet (Tuba auditiva, tube or Eustachian tube). In healthy people, this connection is used to equalize pressure between the middle ear and the surrounding area when swallowing. Due to various conditions this Pressure equalization difficult causing an in the middle ear in the tympanic cavity Developed negative pressure. This ultimately favors the development of ear effusions.
A distinction must be made here between whether the causes are short-term or whether they persist for a long time acute causes it is often about Swelling in the area of ​​the nasopharynx during acute infections.
Exist in adults chronic tympanic effusions, are one as possible causes enlarged tonsils, anatomical malformations of the throat, Sinus infections, recurring Otitis media, as well as benign and malignant tumors in the throat area as possible triggers.


With tympanic effusion, the fluid is not in the external auditory canal, but in the middle ear. This explains why affected patients have different symptoms than those that may appear after bathing.
Is there a tympanic effusion as part of a acute infection, can sharp earache occur. Often are also crackling noises in the ears when swallowing and one impaired hearing. In the case of an existing tympanic effusion, it can also dizziness or Whistling ears (Tinnitus) come.
At a chronic tympanic effusion there is usually no earache. Leading symptom is a Feeling of pressure in the area of ​​the affected ear or ears. In addition, there is also a chronic effusion Hearing loss which can worsen over time.


First step is that medical conversation. The patient describes his symptoms and their course over time. After the conversation, the doctor goes to physical exam. This includes if a tympanic effusion is suspected Inspection of the ear using a so-called otoscope. This is a funnel that is connected to a light source and inserted into the ear canal. This allows the external auditory canal and eardrum to be assessed.
In the case of tympanic effusion, the experienced doctor can usually make the diagnosis with this measure, which lasts only a few seconds, as it is characteristic changes in the eardrum surrender. An ear microscope can also be used for the assessment. Further examinations aim to diagnose a possible hearing loss. For this a Hearing test (Audiogram) carried out. In addition, an existing negative pressure in the middle ear can be diagnosed using a probe that is inserted into the ear canal (Tympanometry).


The therapy of a tympanic effusion depends on its cause. Is it a acute infection In the area of ​​the nasopharynx, for example in the context of a flu, the tympanic effusion generally disappears as the infection subsides. Can be supportive for a short time decongestant nasal drops and expectorant drugs can be used. With some infections, the use of Antibiotics be useful.
The patient can also learn certain maneuvers to help ventilate the tympanic cavity. If the effusion does not subside over time, it may be necessary to Paracentesis perform. This is a small procedure that is usually carried out under local anesthesia. The eardrum with a small cut Mistake. The effusion can be removed through the resulting hole.
Lie anatomical changes that disturb the ventilation of the middle ear, these are usually corrected surgically. If sinus infection is the likely cause, it must be treated. Therapy then takes place with decongestant nasal drops, expectorant drugs and possibly antibiotics.


The prognosis for tympanic effusions depends on the cause. Since almost everyone has had one at least once as a child and most of them have no more problems later on, she can generally however as Well can be specified.


To prevention a tympanic effusion exist no meaningful options. At best, you can be urged to take the symptoms described seriously and to present yourself or the child to the doctor. With early therapy, speech development disorders can be prevented in the child. But even in adults, especially with chronic tympanic effusion, there are possible long-term complications on the ear, which can be avoided with early therapy.

Ejaculation in the child

children show due to certain anatomical preconditions, compared to adults, significantly increased risk to develop ear effusions. This is also reflected in the figures: it is assumed that up to 90% of people have suffered from an ear effusion at least once in their childhood. Particular importance with regard to the cause comes with children the so-called Polyps to. The term is wrong in the actual medical sense, because in this case it is not about a growth that has developed, but rather about one enlarged anatomical structure, the Pharynx (Pharyngeal tonsil).
In children, the pharynx enlarges as part of the child's immune system's natural confrontation with invading pathogens. It can happen that the pharynx increases in size to such an extent that it restricts nasal breathing by partially closing the child's throat. As with adults, in this case a Ventilation disorder of the tympanic cavity develop a tympanic effusion.
If an effusion occurs in children, these are brief and possibly recurring Earache a common symptom. There is also a Hearing loss on the affected ear or both ears. However, children often do not notice this or do not express the change to their parents. It is difficult to recognize the Hearing loss even in small childrenbecause they may not be able to express themselves yet.
Since language is learned through hearing, ask bilateral tympanic effusions, the persist for months, is a serious problem in children and toddlers. In these cases it can increase Language development disorders come. It is all the more important for parents to pay close attention to their child's behavior.
Delayed development of language, unusually loud speaking, but also unspecific changes, such as deterioration in school, should be reported to the pediatrician. They can be symptoms that indirectly indicate a chronic tympanic effusion.
Tympanic effusions have one in the child great tendency to regress on its own and are usually started with a two-week antibiotic treatment treated. As a support, children can, for example, inflate balloons to improve ventilation of the tympanic cavity. If it does not show sufficient success, one should surgery (Paracentesis) should be considered. In children, unlike adults, this small procedure takes a little longer general anesthetic carried out. It will be a Cut in the eardrum set to allow the effusion to drain. The deposit so-called Ventilation tubesthat remain in the eardrum for several months can be considered. This can improve the ventilation of the middle ear. Nowadays, however, it is usually not used.
Is a enlarged pharynx responsible for the tympanic effusions, should also have a surgical removal of the tonsils to be thought about.