Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now day two. There’s still total obstruction in your right ear. 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 a single direction leaves 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 ear remain blocked?

It probably won’t be a great surprise to learn that the single biggest factor in projecting the duration of your blocked ear is the cause of the obstruction. You may need to get medical attention if your blockage is not the type that clears itself up quickly.

As a rule of thumb, though, if your blockage persists for any longer than one week, you might want to seek out some help.

When Should I Be Concerned About a Blocked Ear?

You will most likely start contemplating the reason for your blockage after around two days. Perhaps you’ll examine your behavior from the previous two or three days: were you doing anything that might have resulted in water getting stuck in your ear, for example?

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

Those questions are actually just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of potential reasons for a clogged ear:

  • Allergies: Various pollen allergies can trigger the body’s immune system response, which in turn cause swelling and fluid.
  • Growths: Your ears can get growths, bulges, and lumps which can even obstruct your ears.
  • Earwax accumulation: Earwax can cause blockages if it’s not effectively draining or if it becomes compressed, hardening in place.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can produce fluid buildup in your ears because your ears, nose and throat are all connected (causing a clog).
  • Air pressure variations: If the pressure in the air changes suddenly, your eustachian tube can fail to compensate which can cause temporary blockage.
  • Permanent loss of hearing: A blocked ear and some types of permanent hearing loss can feel surprisingly similar. If your “clogged ear” is persisting longer than it should, you need to have it examined.
  • Water stuck in the ear canal or eustachian tube: The little areas in the ear are alarmingly efficient at trapping sweat and water. (If you often sweat profusely, this can certainly end up temporarily clogging your ears).
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can bring about fluid buildup and inflammation that ultimately obstructs your ears.

How to Get Your Ears Back to Normal as Fast as You Can

So, if air pressure is the culprit, your ears will normally go back to normal within a day or two. If an ear infection is to blame for your clogged ears, you may 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 could take up to a couple of weeks. You might have to wait even longer than that if you’re suffering from a sinus infection.

Getting your ears back to normal as rapidly as possible, then, will normally involve a bit of patience (counterintuitive though it may be), and your expectations need to be, well, adjustable.

Not doing anything to aggravate the situation is the first and most important step. When your ears begin feeling clogged, you might be tempted to pull out the old cotton swab and attempt to physically clear things out. This can be an especially hazardous strategy (cotton swabs have been the cause of all kinds of problems and complications, from infection to loss of hearing). 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 bit antsy if a couple of days pass and you still have no clue what might be the cause of your blockage. A few days is normally enough time for your body to clear up any blockage. But the basic rule of thumb is that if things last for more than a week or so, it may be a wise choice to come in for a consultation.

Early indications of hearing loss can also feel like clogged ears. And you don’t want to neglect hearing loss because, as you’ve probably read in our other posts, it can cause a whole host of other health issues.

Doing no further harm first will give your body an opportunity to heal and clear that blockage away naturally. But intervention may be needed when those natural means do not succeed. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this could 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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