Shaking head to free water may damage kids' brains

Shaking head to free water may damage kids' brains

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Shaking the head to get rid of water trapped in the ear canal may cause brain damage in children, according to a study.

Researchers from Cornell University and Virginia Tech in the US noted that trapped water in the ear canal can cause infection and even damage, but one of the most common methods people use to get rid of water in their ears can also cause complications.

"Our research mainly focuses on the acceleration required to get the water out of the ear canal," said 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 in a statement.

For adults, the acceleration was lower due to the larger diameter of the ear canals, the researchers said.

They explained that 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.

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.