Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s been two days. Your right ear is still completely blocked. The last time you remember hearing anything on that side was yesterday morning. Your left ear is trying to compensate, naturally, but only being able to hear 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, how long will your blocked ear last?

It most likely won’t be a huge surprise to discover that the number one variable in predicting the duration of your clogged ear is the cause of the blockage. Some blockages subside on their own and rather quickly at that; others might linger and require medical intervention.

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

When Does a Blocked Ear Become a Concern?

If you’re on the second day of a clogged ear, you may begin to think about potential causes. You’ll probably begin to think about what you’ve been doing over the last couple of days: for instance, did you get water in your ear somehow?

You might also think about your health. Are you suffering from any symptoms of an ear infection? If that’s the case, you may want to make an appointment.

This line of questioning is only a beginning. A clogged ear could have numerous potential causes:

  • Build-up of earwax: If earwax becomes compacted or is not properly draining it can result in blockages..
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can cause fluid to buildup in your ears because your ears, throat, and nose are all connected (causing a clog).
  • Growths: Certain types of growths, bulges, and lumps can cause a clogged feeling in your ears (and even obstruct your hearing).
  • Changes in air pressure: If the pressure in the air changes all of a sudden, your eustachian tube can fail to compensate which can temporarily cause obstruction.
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can bring about fluid buildup and inflammation that eventually obstructs your ears.
  • Allergies: Swelling and fluid production can develop when the body’s immune system kicks in – in response to an allergic reaction.
  • Water stuck in the eustachian tube or ear canal: The tiny areas in the ear are surprisingly efficient at capturing sweat and water. (If you tend to sweat profusely, this can certainly end up blocking your ears temporarily).
  • Irreversible hearing impairment: Some types of hearing loss feel a lot like a clogged ear. If your “clogged ear” is lasting longer than it should, you need to get it checked out.

How to Get Your Ears Back to Normal as Quickly as Possible

So, if air pressure is the cause, your ears will usually get back to normal in a day or two. If an ear infection is behind 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). And that may take up to 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 fast as possible, then, will usually involve a bit of patience (counterintuitive though it may be), and you should be able to change your expectations based on your exact situation.

The number one most important job is to not cause the situation to get worse. When you first start to feel like your ears are blocked, it might be tempting to attempt to use cotton swabs to clean them out. This can be a very hazardous strategy (cotton swabs have been known to cause all kinds of problems and difficulties, from infection to loss of hearing). If you use a cotton swab, you’re probably going to make things worse.

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

So you might be getting a little antsy if a couple of days pass and you still have no clue what might be causing your blockage. A few days is usually enough time for your body to eliminate any blockage. But the general rule of thumb is that if things last for more than a week or so, it may be a smart idea to come in for a consultation.

That sensation of feeling like your ears are clogged can also be an indication of hearing loss. And as you most likely know from our other posts, untreated hearing loss can cause other health concerns, particularly over time.

Doing no further damage first will give your body an opportunity to mend and clean that blockage away naturally. But when that fails, intervention could be required. How long that takes will vary depending on the root cause of your blocked 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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