Avoid Shaking Head to Remove Trapped Water in Ears: A New Healthcare Study Suggests


  • Shaking the head to remove trapped water can cause more damage to children than adults.
  • This is because children have a smaller diameter of ear canals.

In the situation when water gets trapped in the ear canal, most of the people try to remove it by shaking their head. However, a recent study done by researchers at Cornell University and Virginia Tech has shown that shaking the head to remove water can cause brain damage in small children.

The new healthcare findings were presented at the 72nd Annual Meeting of American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics.

One of the researchers Anuj Baskota said, “Our research mainly focuses on the acceleration required to get the water out of the ear canal. The critical acceleration that we obtained experimentally on glass tubes and 3D printed ear canals was around the range of 10 times the force of gravity for infant ear sizes, which could cause damage to the brain.

The acceleration was lower for adults due to the larger diameter of the ear canals. Researchers said the overall volume and position of the water in the canal changes the acceleration needed to remove it.

Surface Tension is the Major Reason behind Water Trapping

Baskota further explained, “From our experiments and theoretical model, we figured out that surface tension of the fluid is one of the crucial factors promoting the water to get stuck in ear canals.”

What’s the solution?

Researchers suggested that one should go for a more healthy solution that does not involve any head shaking.

Baskota said, “Presumably, putting a few drops of a liquid with lower surface tension than water, like alcohol or vinegar, in the ear would reduce the surface tension force allowing the water to flow out.”

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