Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now day two. Your right ear is still totally clogged. The last time you were able to hear anything on that side was yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear does double duty to pick up the slack. You thought it might up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not the case. So, how long will your ear remain blocked?

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

As a general rule, though, if your blockage lasts for any longer than a week, you might want to seek out some help.

When Does a Blocked Ear Become a Worry?

If you’re on the second day of a blocked ear, you may begin to think about possible causes. Perhaps you’ll think about your activities from the past two or three days: were you doing anything that could have resulted in water getting stuck in your ear, for instance?

What about the condition of your health? Are you experiencing the sort of pain or discomfort (or fever) that may be related to an ear infection? If that’s the case, you might want to make an appointment.

Those questions are really just the beginning. A blocked ear could have numerous potential causes:

  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can bring about inflammation and fluid buildup that ultimately blocks your ears.
  • Allergies: Certain pollen allergies can trigger the body’s immune system reaction, which will then produces swelling and fluid.
  • Air pressure variations: If the pressure in the air changes abruptly, your eustachian tube can fail to adjust which can temporarily cause blockage.
  • Growths: Your ears can have growths, bulges, and lumps which can even block your ears.
  • Earwax accumulation: If earwax gets compacted or is not properly draining it can result in blockages..
  • Water stuck in the eustachian tube or ear canal: The tiny places inside the ear are surprisingly good at trapping water and sweat. (Short-term blockage can certainly develop if you sweat profusely).
  • Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, ears and throat are all connected, a sinus infection can create excess fluids to become lodged in your ears (causing a clog).
  • Permanent loss of hearing: Some forms of hearing loss feel a lot like a clogged ear. If your “clogged ear” is persisting longer than it should, you need to get it examined.

The Fastest Way to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal

Your ears will probably return to normal after a couple of days if air pressure is causing your blockage. You may need to wait for your immune system to start working if your blockage is caused by an ear infection (you might need an antibiotic to speed things up). This may take up to a couple of weeks. You might have to wait even longer than that if you’re suffering from a sinus infection.

A bit of patience will be necessary before your ears return to normal (counterintuitive though it might be), and you should be able to adjust your expectations according to your exact situation.

Your first and most important job is to not make the situation worse. When your ears start feeling clogged, you may be inclined to take out the old cotton swab and attempt to manually clear your ears out. This can be a particularly dangerous strategy (cotton swabs have been known to cause all kinds of problems and complications, from infection to hearing loss). You will probably make the situation worse if you use cotton swabs.

If Your Ear is Still Blocked After a Week…it Might be Hearing Loss

So you might be getting a bit 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 get rid of any blockage. But it may be, as a general rule of thumb, a good decision to come see us if your blockage lasts for more than a week.

That sensation of feeling like your ears are blocked can also be an indication of hearing loss. And you don’t want to ignore hearing loss because, as you’ve probably read in our other posts, it can lead to a whole range of other health issues.

Being careful not to worsen the issue will usually allow the body to clear up the matter on its own. But intervention may be required 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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