Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now day two. Your right ear is still completely blocked. 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 blocked ear last?

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

As a rule of thumb, however, if your blockage persists for any longer than a week, you might want to get some help.

When Does a Blocked Ear Become a Concern?

If you’re on day two of a blocked ear, you might start thinking about possible causes. You’ll probably begin to think about what you’ve been doing for the last couple of days: were you doing anything that might have resulted in water getting stuck in your ear, for instance?

How about your state of health? Are you dealing with the sort of discomfort and pain (or fever) that could be associated with an ear infection? You might want to make an appointment if that’s the case.

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

  • Air pressure variations: On occasion, your Eustachian tube can fail to properly adjust to changes in air pressure, creating the feeling of a short-term blockage in one or both ears.
  • Allergies: Various pollen allergies can spark the body’s immune system reaction, which in turn produces swelling and fluid.
  • The ear canal or eustachian tube gets water stuck in it: The little places inside the ear are alarmingly efficient at trapping sweat and water. (If you often sweat copiously, this can definitely end up clogging your ears temporarily).
  • Build-up of earwax: If earwax gets compressed or is not thoroughly draining it can result in blockages..
  • Ear Infection: Your ear can eventually become blocked by fluid accumulation or inflammation from an ear infection.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can cause fluid to buildup in your ears because your ears, throat, and nose are all connected (causing a clog).
  • Permanent loss of hearing: A clogged ear and some kinds of permanent hearing loss can feel surprisingly similar. If your “blocked ear” is lasting longer than it should, you need to get it examined.
  • Growths: Certain kinds of growths, bulges, and lumps can result in a blocked feeling in your ears (and even interfere with your hearing).

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

So, if air pressure is the cause, your ears will normally get back to normal within a day or two. You may need to wait for your immune system to start working if your blockage is caused by an ear infection (you may need an antibiotic to get faster relief). And that may take as much as a week or two. Sinus infections have been known to stick around even longer.

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

Not doing anything to aggravate the situation is your most important first step. When you first begin to feel like your ears are plugged, it may be tempting to try and use cotton swabs to clear them out. All sorts 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 probably going to make the situation worse.

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

So you might be getting a bit antsy if a couple of days go by and you still have no clue what might be the cause of 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 might be a good idea to come in for a consultation.

That sensation of feeling like your ears are clogged can also be a sign of hearing loss. And as you probably know from our other posts, untreated hearing loss can lead to other health problems, especially over time.

Being careful not to worsen the issue will normally permit the body to clear up the matter on its own. But treatment may 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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