Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now been a couple of days. There’s still total obstruction in your right ear. You haven’t been able to hear anything on that side since yesterday morning. Your left ear is trying to compensate, 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 the case. So will your blocked ear clear up soon?

Precisely how long your blockage will persist depends, not surprisingly, on what the cause of the blockage is. You may need to get medical attention if your blockage is not the type that clears itself up quickly.

You shouldn’t allow your blockage to linger for more than one week, as a general rule, without having it checked.

When Does a Clogged Ear Become a Concern?

If you’re on day two of a clogged ear, you may start thinking about possible causes. You’ll most likely start thinking about your activities over the last couple of days: for instance, did you somehow get water in your ear?

You may also examine your health. Do have any symptoms of an ear infection? You may want to make an appointment if that’s the situation.

This line of questioning is only a beginning. A blocked ear could have multiple possible causes:

  • Air pressure variations: If the pressure in the air changes abruptly, your eustachian tube can fail to compensate which can cause temporary obstruction.
  • Permanent loss of hearing: A clogged ear and some forms of permanent hearing loss can feel remarkably similar. If your “clogged ear” is lasting longer than it should, you need to have it examined.
  • Build-up of earwax: If earwax becomes compressed or is not thoroughly draining it can result in blockages..
  • Growths: Your ears can get growths, bulges, and lumps which can even block your ears.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can produce fluid accumulate in your ears because your ears, nose and throat are all connected (causing a clog).
  • Allergies: Various pollen allergies can trigger the body’s immune system reaction, which will then produces fluid and swelling.
  • Water trapped in the ear canal or eustachian tube: The tiny areas in the ear are alarmingly efficient at capturing water and sweat. (Temporary blockage can certainly occur if you sweat profusely).
  • Ear Infection: Your ear can ultimately become obstructed by fluid buildup or inflammation from an ear infection.

The Quickest Way to Get Your Ears Back to Normal

Your ears will probably go back to normal after a couple of days if the blockage is caused by air pressure. You may have to wait for your immune system to start working if your blockage is due to an ear infection (and, if it’s the latter, antibiotics can be very helpful). And that might take as much as a week or two. You may have to wait even longer than that if you have a sinus infection.

Bringing your ears back to normal as rapidly as you can, then, will usually involve some patience (counterintuitive though it may be), and your expectations should be, well, variable.

Not doing anything to exacerbate the situation is the first and most important step. When your ears begin to feel clogged, you might be inclined to pull out the old cotton swab and start trying to manually clean your ears out. All sorts of issues, from ear infections to loss of hearing, can be caused by cotton swabs so this can be a particularly dangerous approach. You will most likely make the situation worse if you use cotton swabs.

It’s Possible That Your “Blockage” is Hearing Loss

So you could be getting a little antsy if a couple of days pass and you still have no clue what might be causing your blockage. In almost all instances, your blockage will clear itself up after a few days. But the basic rule of thumb is that if things last for more than a week or so, it may be a good decision to come in for a consultation.

That feeling of blocked ears can also be a sign of hearing loss. And you don’t want to neglect hearing loss because, as you’ve most likely read in our other posts, it can cause a whole host of other health issues.

Doing no additional damage first will allow your body an opportunity to heal and clean that blockage away naturally. But when that fails, treatment might be necessary. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this may take a varying amount of time.

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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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