Why Water Gets Trapped In Ears After Swimming

Swimming is a fun way to get some low-impact exercise, but plenty of people leave the pool only to realize that they have water trapped in their ears. If you frequently have this problem, there are a few potential reasons why you might be having this difficulty. Read on to find out why and what you should do to get it treated.

Impacted Wax

One of the most common reasons for water getting trapped is impacted ear wax. Wearing earbuds, ear plugs, or using q-tips to clean your ears can shove earwax further in, smashing it into a single lump. This lump can allow water to pass but may block it from exiting as easily as it came in. Unfortunately, trying to fix the problem with a q-tip will typically just make it worse.

Swollen Ear Canals

When water flows into your ear, it passes through the ear canal. If the ear canal swells after the water is in there, it won't be able to come back out again. This can happen because of irritants in the water, especially if you're not swimming in a clean pool. Unfortunately, this can quickly lead to an ear infection if left untreated.


Temporomandibular joint disorder can cause pain in the ears, but it can also cause issues when water gets into your ears. When the temporomandibular joint works properly, chewing gradually expels water, foreign bodies, and ear wax out of the ear. However, if you have temporomandibular joint disorder, this function may not work properly. This is why chewing gum to get water out of one's ear works for some people but not everyone.


Regardless of the reason, if water gets trapped in your ears and won't come out, it can lead to an ear infection. It's important to visit an urgent care facility to have your ears treated as soon as possible.

An urgent care doctor or nurse will take a close look at your ears to determine the cause. If it's earwax, they'll flush it out of your ears, which will allow the water to drain. Swelling in ear canals can be reduced with steroids. Temporomandibular joint disorder can't be easily corrected, but an urgent care doctor can drain your ears of the fluid that's caught in them after swimming.

Swimming in a pool can be fun, but it's important to take care of your ears. Wearing swimming ear plugs or keeping your head above water can prevent these problems from recurring.