Washington D.C.: Almost everyone comes across this situation when water gets trapped in the ear canal and all people do is try and remove it by one of the most used methods — shaking the head!
While trapped water in the canal can cause infection and even damage, what turns out to be more harmful is the way used to extract it out.
A new 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 findings were presented at the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics 72nd Annual Meeting on.
“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,” said one of the researchers, Anuj Baskota.
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,” Baskota explained.
Researchers even opined a more healthy 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 suggested.