Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s been a couple of days. Your right ear is still completely blocked. You haven’t been able to hear anything on that side since yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear works overtime to pick up the slack. You thought it might up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not happening. So will your clogged ear improve soon?

Exactly how long your blockage will last depends, not surprisingly, on what the cause of the blockage is. Some blockages go away on their own and fairly quickly at that; others might persist and call for medical treatment.

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

When Should I Be Concerned About a Blocked Ear?

If you’re on the second day of a blocked ear, you might begin to think about possible causes. You’ll most likely start thinking about what you’ve been doing for the last couple of days: for example, did you get water in your ear somehow?

You may also think about your health. Are you suffering from the kind of discomfort and pain (or fever) that may be linked to an ear infection? If that’s the case, you might want to schedule an appointment.

Those questions are actually just the tip of the iceberg. A blocked ear could have multiple possible causes:

  • Irreversible hearing impairment: Some types of hearing loss feel a lot like a blocked ear. You need to schedule an appointment if your “blocked ear” persists longer than it should.
  • Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, throat, and ears are all connected, a sinus infection can produce excess fluids to become stuck in your ears (causing a clog).
  • Growths: Certain types of growths, bulges, and lumps can result in a clogged feeling in your ears (and even impact your hearing).
  • Allergies: Swelling and fluid production can develop when the body’s immune system kicks in – in response to an allergic reaction.
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can bring about fluid buildup and inflammation that ultimately obstructs your ears.
  • Earwax accumulation: If earwax gets compacted or is not properly draining it can cause blockages..
  • Water trapped in the eustachian tube or ear canal: Sweat and water can become trapped in the tiny areas of your ear with surprising ease. (If you often sweat profusely, this can definitely end up temporarily clogging your ears).
  • Changes in air pressure: Occasionally, your Eustachian tube can fail to properly adjust to changes in air pressure, creating the feeling of a short-term blockage in your ear or ears.

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

So, if air pressure is the culprit, your ears will normally go back to normal in a day or two. You might need to wait for your immune system to start working if your blockage is caused by an ear infection (and, if it’s the latter, antibiotics can really help). And that may take up to a week or two. Sinus infections have been known to stick around even longer.

Some patience will be necessary before your ears return to normal (counterintuitive though it might be), and you need to be able to adjust your expectations based on your exact situation.

Not doing anything to exacerbate the situation is the first and most important step. When you first begin to feel like your ears are plugged, it may be tempting to try and use cotton swabs to clear them out. This can be an especially hazardous strategy (cotton swabs have been known to cause all kinds of problems and difficulties, from infection to hearing loss). You will probably worsen the situation if you use cotton swabs.

If Your Ear is Still Clogged After a Week…it May be Hearing Loss

So, if your ear is still blocked on day two and you don’t have any really great clue as to what’s causing it, you might be reasonably impatient. A few days is usually enough time for your body to get rid of any blockage. But it may be, as a basic rule of thumb, a prudent idea to come see us if your blockage lasts for more than a week.

That feeling of clogged ears can also be an indication of hearing loss. And as you most likely understand from our other posts, untreated hearing loss can cause other health issues, especially over time.

Doing no additional damage first will allow your body an opportunity to mend and clean that blockage away naturally. But treatment could be necessary when those natural means do not succeed. How long that takes will fluctuate depending on the root cause of your clogged ears.

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