Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

You’re on day two. Your right ear is still totally clogged. The last time you remember hearing anything in that direction was yesterday morning. Your left ear is picking up the slack, naturally, but only hearing from one direction is leaving you feeling off-balance. You were hoping it would have cleared up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not happening. So will your blocked ear improve soon?

Exactly how long your blockage will last depends, not unexpectedly, on what the cause of the blockage is. Some blockages subside on their own and fairly quickly at that; others may persist and require medical treatment.

You shouldn’t let your blockage linger for longer than a week, as a general rule, without getting it examined.

When Does a Clogged Ear Become a Worry?

If you’re on day two of a clogged ear, you might start thinking about possible causes. Maybe you’ll examine your behavior from the past couple of days: for instance, did you get water in your ear somehow?

You may also think about your health. Do have any symptoms of an ear infection? If that’s the case, you may want to schedule an appointment.

This line of questioning is only a starting point. There are plenty of possible reasons for a blocked ear:

  • Allergies: Fluid production and swelling can manifest when the body’s immune system goes to work – in response to an allergic reaction.
  • Irreversible hearing impairment: Some types of hearing loss feel a lot like a blocked ear. If your “clogged ear” is persisting longer than it should, you need to get it examined.
  • Accumulation of earwax: If earwax gets compacted or is not thoroughly draining it can result in blockages..
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can cause fluid buildup and inflammation that ultimately obstructs your ears.
  • Water stuck in the ear canal or eustachian tube: Water and sweat can become trapped in the tiny areas of your ear with surprising ease. (If you often sweat copiously, this can certainly end up temporarily blocking your ears).
  • Growths: Certain kinds of growths, bulges, and lumps can result in a clogged feeling in your ears (and even obstruct your hearing).
  • Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, ears and throat are all interconnected, a sinus infection can cause excess fluids to become stuck in your ears (causing a clog).
  • Air pressure changes: If the pressure in the air changes all of a sudden, your eustachian tube can fail to adjust which can cause temporary blockage.

The Quickest Way to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal

So, if air pressure is the cause, your ears will usually go back to normal within a day or two. If an ear infection is to blame for your blocked ears, you may have to wait until your body fights off the virus or bacteria at work (you may need an antibiotic to get faster relief). This could take up to a couple of weeks. You might have to wait even longer than that if you have a sinus infection.

A bit of patience will be needed before your ears return to normal (counterintuitive though it may be), and you need to be able to change your expectations based on your actual circumstances.

The number one most important job is to not make the situation worse. When you first begin to feel like your ears are clogged, it may be tempting to attempt to use cotton swabs to clear them out. This can be a very hazardous strategy (cotton swabs have been known to cause all sorts of problems and difficulties, from infection to hearing loss). You will most likely worsen the situation if you use cotton swabs.

If Your Ear is Still Blocked After a Week…it Could be Hearing Loss

So you could be getting a little antsy if a couple of days pass and you still have no idea what might be causing your blockage. In nearly all instances, your blockage will take care of itself after a few days. But the general rule of thumb is that if things persist for more than a week or so, it may be a smart choice to come see us.

Early indications of hearing loss can also feel like blocked ears. And as you probably understand from our other posts, neglected hearing loss can result in other health problems, particularly over time.

Being cautious not to worsen the issue will usually allow the body to take care of the matter on its own. But when that fails, intervention might be required. How long that takes will vary depending on the base cause of your clogged ears.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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