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Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now been two days. There’s still total obstruction in your right ear. You haven’t been able to hear anything on that side since 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 probably won’t be a great surprise to learn that the single biggest variable in projecting the duration of your clogged ear will be the cause of the obstruction. You could need to get medical attention if your blockage is not the kind that clears itself up quickly.

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

When Does a Blocked Ear Become a Worry?

If you’re on day two of a blocked ear, you may start thinking about potential causes. You’ll most likely start thinking 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. Are you suffering from any symptoms of an ear infection? You might want to schedule an appointment if that’s the case.

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

  • Growths: Some kinds of growths, bulges, and lumps can cause a clogged feeling in your ears (and even interfere with your hearing).
  • Air pressure variations: Sometimes, your Eustachian tube can fail to properly adjust to changes in air pressure, creating the feeling of a temporary blockage in one or both ears.
  • Water trapped in the eustachian tube or ear canal: Water and sweat can get trapped in the little places inside your ear with alarming ease. (If you tend to sweat profusely, this can certainly end up temporarily blocking your ears).
  • Allergies: Fluid production and swelling can occur when the body’s immune system goes to work – as a reaction to an allergic reaction.
  • Ear Infection: Your ear can ultimately become clogged by fluid buildup or inflammation due to an ear infection.
  • Build-up of earwax: If earwax becomes compacted or is not properly draining it can result in blockages..
  • Permanent hearing impairment: Some kinds of hearing loss feel a lot like a clogged ear. You should schedule an appointment if your “blocked ear” lasts longer than it should.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can cause fluid to buildup in your ears because your ears, throat, and nose are all connected (causing a clog).

The Fastest Way to Get Your Ears Back to Normal

Your ears will probably return to normal after a couple of days if air pressure is causing your blockage. If an ear infection is to blame for your clogged ears, you may have to wait until your body fights off the virus or bacteria at work (you might need an antibiotic to speed things up). And that may take as much as a week or two. Sinus infections sometimes stick around even longer.

Getting your ears back to normal as rapidly as possible, then, will often involve some patience (counterintuitive though it may be), and you need to be able to change your expectations according to your actual circumstances.

Not doing anything to exacerbate the situation is the first and most important step. When you first begin to feel like your ears are blocked, it may be tempting to try and use cotton swabs to clean them out. All kinds of issues, from ear infections to loss of hearing, can be caused by cotton swabs so this can be an especially dangerous strategy. If you use a cotton swab, you’re more likely to make things worse.

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

So you could be getting a little antsy if a couple of days go by and you still have no idea what could be causing your blockage. A few days is normally enough time for your body to eliminate any blockage. But it may be, as a basic rule of thumb, a prudent decision to come see us if your blockage lasts for more than a week.

Early indications of hearing loss can also feel like blocked ears. And as you most likely understand from our other posts, neglected hearing loss can lead to other health problems, particularly over time.

Doing no additional damage first will give your body an opportunity to mend and clean that blockage away naturally. But treatment may be needed when those natural means do not succeed. How long that takes will fluctuate depending on the root 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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