Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now been two days. Your right ear is still totally clogged. You haven’t been able to hear a thing on that side since yesterday morning. Your left ear is trying to compensate, of course, but only hearing from one direction is leaving you feeling off-balance. It didn’t improve after a night’s sleep as you hoped it would. So, how long will your blocked ear last?

It most likely won’t be a big shock to learn that the number one factor in predicting the duration of your clogged ear is the cause of the blockage. You might need to get medical attention if your blockage is not the type that clears itself up quickly.

You shouldn’t let your blockage linger for more than one week, as a rule of thumb, without getting it examined.

When Should I Worry About a Clogged Ear?

If you’re on day two of a clogged ear, you may begin to think about potential causes. Maybe you’ll examine your behavior from the previous couple of days: for instance, did you get water in your ear somehow?

What about the condition of your health? Do have any symptoms of an ear infection? You may want to schedule an appointment if that’s the situation.

This line of questioning is only a starting point. A clogged ear could have numerous possible causes:

  • Ear Infection: Your ear can ultimately become clogged by fluid accumulation or inflammation from an ear infection.
  • Growths: Certain kinds of growths, lumps, and bulges can result in a blocked feeling in your ears (and even impact your hearing).
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can produce fluid accumulate in your ears because your ears, throat, and nose are all connected (causing a clog).
  • Changes in air pressure: If the pressure in the air changes all of a sudden, your eustachian tube can fail to compensate which can cause temporary blockage.
  • Earwax Build-up: If earwax becomes compressed or is not properly draining it can result in blockages..
  • Allergies: Some pollen allergies can spark the body’s immune system reaction, which in turn produces fluid and swelling.
  • Water trapped in the ear canal or eustachian tube: Sweat and water can become stuck in the tiny areas of your ear with surprising ease. (Short-term blockage can certainly develop if you sweat profusely).
  • Permanent loss of hearing: Some types 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 checked out.

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

Your ears will most likely return to normal after a couple of days if air pressure is causing your blockage. You might need to wait for your immune system to kick in if your blockage is due to an ear infection (and, if it’s the latter, antibiotics can really help). 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.

Some patience will be required before your ears return to normal (though that may feel counterintuitive), and you need to be able to adjust your expectations based on your exact circumstances.

The number one most important job is to not cause the situation to get worse. When your ears start to feel blocked, you may be tempted to pull out the old cotton swab and attempt to manually clean things out. This can be an especially hazardous strategy (cotton swabs have been the cause of all kinds of issues and complications, from infection to hearing loss). You will most likely worsen the situation 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 go by and you still have no clue what could be causing your blockage. In almost all instances, your blockage will clear itself up after a few days. But the basic rule of thumb is that if things persist for more than a week or so, it may be a smart 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 don’t want to ignore hearing loss because, as you’ve probably read in our other posts, it can cause a whole range of other health problems.

Being cautious not to worsen the issue will usually allow the body to clear up the situation on its own. But when that fails, intervention could be necessary. How long that takes will fluctuate depending on the underlying cause of your blocked ears.

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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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