Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s been two days. There’s still total obstruction in your right ear. You haven’t been able to hear a thing on that side since yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear works overtime to pick up the slack. It didn’t improve after a night’s sleep as you were hoping it would. So will your blocked ear clear up soon?

It most likely won’t be a big surprise to discover that the single biggest variable in predicting the duration of your blocked ear will be the cause of the blockage. You could need to get medical attention if your blockage isn’t the kind that clears itself up quickly.

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

When Does a Clogged Ear Become a Concern?

If you’re on day two of a blocked ear, you may begin to think about possible causes. You’ll probably begin to think 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. Do have any symptoms of an ear infection? If that’s the case, you might want to schedule an appointment.

Those questions are truly just the beginning. There are plenty of potential causes for a blocked ear:

  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can bring about fluid buildup and inflammation that eventually obstructs your ears.
  • Build-up of earwax: If earwax gets compacted or is not properly draining it can result in blockages..
  • The ear canal or eustachian tube gets water stuck in it: The little places inside the ear are surprisingly good at capturing sweat and water. (Temporary blockage can definitely develop if you sweat profusely).
  • Permanent loss of hearing: A blocked ear and some forms of permanent hearing loss can feel remarkably similar. If your “blocked ear” is persisting longer than it should, you need to have it checked out.
  • Allergies: Certain pollen allergies can trigger the body’s immune system reaction, which in turn cause swelling and fluid.
  • 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).
  • Growths: Some kinds of growths, lumps, and bulges can cause a clogged feeling in your ears (and even obstruct your hearing).
  • Changes in air pressure: If the pressure in the air changes suddenly, your eustachian tube can fail to compensate which can temporarily cause blockage.

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

Your ears will most likely go back to normal after a couple of days if air pressure is causing your blockage. If an ear infection is to blame for your clogged ears, you might have to wait until your body fights off the virus or bacteria at work (and, if it’s the latter, antibiotics can be very helpful). This may take up to a couple of weeks. You might have to wait even longer than that if you have a sinus infection.

Getting your ears back to normal as rapidly as you can, then, will usually involve some patience (though that might feel counterintuitive), and you need to be able to change your expectations according to your exact circumstances.

Not doing anything to exacerbate the situation is your most important first step. When you first begin to feel like your ears are blocked, it may be tempting to attempt to use cotton swabs to clear them out. All kinds of problems, from ear infections to loss of hearing, can be caused by cotton swabs so this can be a particularly dangerous strategy. If you use a cotton swab, you’re more likely to make the situation worse.

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

So you might be getting a little antsy if a couple of days pass and you still have no idea what could be the cause of your blockage. A few days is normally enough time for your body to eliminate any blockage. But the general rule of thumb is that if things persist for more than a week or so, it might be a good 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 you shouldn’t ignore hearing loss because, as you’ve most likely read in our other posts, it can cause a whole range of other health concerns.

Doing no further harm first will allow your body an opportunity to mend and clean that blockage away naturally. But intervention may be required when those natural means do not succeed. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this might 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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