Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now day two. There’s still complete obstruction in your right ear. The last time you were able to hear anything in that direction was yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off-balance as your left ear works overtime to pick up the slack. It didn’t clear up after a night’s sleep as you were hoping it would. So, how long will your ear remain blocked?

It most likely won’t be a big shock to find out that the number one factor in predicting the duration of your blocked ear is the cause of the obstruction. Some blockages go away on their own and fairly quickly at that; others may persist and require medical intervention.

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

When Does a Clogged Ear Become a Concern?

You will probably begin to think about the cause of your blockage. You’ll probably begin to think about your activities for the past couple of days: for example, did you somehow get water in your ear?

You may also consider your health. Do have any symptoms of an ear infection? If that’s the scenario, you may want to make an appointment.

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

  • Earwax accumulation: If earwax becomes compressed or is not properly draining it can cause blockages..
  • Growths: Your ears can get growths, bulges, and lumps which can even obstruct your ears.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can produce fluid accumulate 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 adjust which can temporarily cause blockage.
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can cause fluid buildup and inflammation that eventually obstructs your ears.
  • Allergies: Swelling and fluid production can develop when the body’s immune system goes to work – as a reaction to an allergic reaction.
  • Irreversible hearing impairment: A clogged ear and some types of irreversible hearing loss can feel remarkably similar. If your “clogged ear” is lasting longer than it should, you need to have it examined.
  • The eustachian tube or ear canal gets water trapped in it: The tiny places inside the ear are surprisingly efficient at capturing water and sweat. (Short-term blockage can definitely develop if you sweat profusely).

The Quickest Way to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal

So, if air pressure is the cause, your ears will usually get back to normal. You might 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. Sinus infections sometimes stick around even longer.

Bringing your ears back to normal as quickly as you can, then, will often involve a bit of patience (though that may seem counterintuitive), and you need to be able to change your expectations based on your exact circumstances.

The number one most important task is to not cause the situation to get worse. When your ears start feeling clogged, you may be inclined to take out the old cotton swab and start trying to manually clean things out. All sorts of issues, from ear infections to hearing loss, can come from using cotton swabs so this can be an extremely dangerous approach. You will most likely worsen the situation if you use cotton swabs.

If Your Ear is Still Clogged…it May be Hearing Loss

So, if your ear is still clogged and you don’t have any really great clue as to what’s causing it, you might be justifiably impatient. In nearly all cases, your blockage will clear itself up. But the general rule of thumb is that if things last, it might be a wise choice to come in for a consultation.

That feeling of clogged ears can also be a sign of hearing loss. And you shouldn’t neglect hearing loss because, as you’ve most likely read in our other posts, it can lead to a whole range of other health concerns.

Doing no further harm first will give your body a chance to mend and clear that blockage away naturally. But when that fails, intervention may be required. How long that takes will vary depending on the base cause of your clogged 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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