Shaking head is one of the most common methods people use to get rid of water in their ears, but it can also cause complications as researchers have found that trapped water in the ear canals can cause infection and brain damage.
Researchers at Cornell University and Virginia Tech in the US, revealed that shaking the head to free trapped water can cause brain damage in small children.
“Our research mainly focuses on the acceleration required to get the water out of the ear canal,” said Indian-origin researcher and study author Anuj Baskota from Cornell University.
“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,” Baskota said.
For adults, the acceleration was lower due to the larger diameter of the ear canals. They said the overall volume and position of the water in the canal changes the acceleration needed to remove it.
“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,” said Baskota.
Luckily, the researchers said there is a solution that does not involve any head shaking.
“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,” Baskota said.
The study was presented at the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics 72nd Annual Meeting on November 23 in Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, US.