Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now day two. Your right ear is still completely clogged. The last time you remember hearing anything on that side was 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 the case. So will your blocked ear improve soon?

Precisely how long your blockage will last depends, not unexpectedly, on what the cause of the blockage is. You might need to seek out medical attention if your blockage isn’t the type that clears itself up quickly.

You shouldn’t allow your blockage to linger without having it checked, and you should always treat sudden hearing loss as an emergency.

When Should I Be Concerned About a Clogged Ear?

You will probably start contemplating the reason for your blockage after a day. You’ll probably start thinking about your activities over the last couple of days: for instance, did you somehow get water in your ear?

You may also examine your health. Are you suffering from any symptoms of an ear infection? You might want to schedule an appointment if that’s the situation.

This line of questioning is merely a starting point. There are plenty of potential reasons for a clogged ear:

  • Growths: Some kinds of growths, lumps, and bulges can result in a blocked feeling in your ears (and even impact your hearing).
  • Allergies: Swelling and fluid production can develop when the body’s immune system goes to work – in response to an allergic reaction.
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can cause fluid buildup and inflammation that ultimately blocks your ears.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can produce fluid accumulate in your ears because your ears, nose and throat are all interconnected (causing a clog).
  • Air pressure variations: If the pressure in the air changes all of a sudden, your eustachian tube can fail to adjust which can temporarily cause obstruction.
  • Water stuck in the ear canal or eustachian tube: The little places inside the ear are surprisingly efficient at capturing water and sweat. (Short-term blockage can definitely occur if you sweat heavily).
  • Permanent hearing impairment: A clogged ear and some kinds of irreversible hearing loss can feel surprisingly similar. If your “blocked ear” is lasting longer than it should, you need to have it examined.
  • Earwax Build-up: If earwax becomes compressed or is not properly draining it can result in blockages..

The Fastest Way to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal

So, if air pressure is the cause, your ears will usually get back to normal. You may need to wait for your immune system to start working if your blockage is due to an ear infection (and, if it’s the latter, antibiotics can be very helpful). This could take up to a couple of weeks. Sinus infections sometimes last even longer.

A bit of patience will be needed before your ears get back to normal (counterintuitive though it might be), and your expectations should be, well, variable.

Your first and most important job is to not make the situation worse. When your ears begin feeling clogged, you might be inclined to pull out the old cotton swab and start trying to manually clear your ears out. All kinds of issues, from ear infections to hearing loss, can be caused by cotton swabs so this can be an especially dangerous approach. If you use a cotton swab, you’re more likely to make things worse.

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

So, if your ear remains clogged and you don’t have any really great ideas as to what’s causing it, you might be reasonably impatient. A day is normally enough time for your body to get rid of any blockage. But it might be, as a basic rule of thumb, a prudent decision to come see us if your blockage lasts for more than a week.

That feeling of clogged ears can also be a sign of hearing loss. And as you probably know from our other posts, neglected hearing loss can result in other health issues, particularly over time.

Being careful not to worsen the problem will normally permit the body to clear up the situation on its own. But intervention could be required when those natural means do not succeed. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this may 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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