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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 does double duty to compensate. You were hoping it would have cleared up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not the case. So, how long will your ear remain blocked?

It most likely won’t be a huge surprise to learn that the single biggest factor in projecting the duration of your clogged ear is the cause of the obstruction. Some blockages go away by themselves and fairly quickly at that; others could persist and call for medical treatment.

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

When Should I Worry About a Blocked Ear?

You will probably start contemplating the cause of your blockage after about two days. Perhaps you’ll think about your activities from the last couple of days: for example, did you get water in your ear somehow?

What about the condition of your health? Are you dealing with the kind of pain or discomfort (or fever) that could be related to an ear infection? You might want to make an appointment if that’s the situation.

Those questions are truly just the beginning. There are plenty of potential reasons for a clogged ear:

  • Permanent hearing impairment: Some forms of hearing loss feel a lot like a blocked ear. If your “blocked ear” is lasting longer than it should, you need to get it checked out.
  • Build-up of earwax: Earwax can cause blockages if it’s not properly draining or if it becomes compacted, hardening in place.
  • Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, throat, and ears are all connected, a sinus infection can produce excess fluids to become lodged in your ears (causing a clog).
  • Growths: Your ears can get growths, lumps, and bulges which can even obstruct your ears.
  • The ear canal or eustachian tube gets water trapped in it: Water and sweat can become stuck in the little areas of your ear with surprising ease. (If you often sweat copiously, this can certainly end up temporarily clogging your ears).
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can bring about fluid buildup and inflammation that ultimately blocks your ears.
  • Allergies: Various pollen allergies can trigger the body’s immune system response, which in turn generate swelling and fluid.
  • Air pressure changes: If the pressure in the air changes suddenly, your eustachian tube can fail to compensate which can temporarily cause blockage.

The Fastest Way to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal

Your ears will most likely return to normal after a couple of days if the blockage is caused by air pressure. You might need to wait for your immune system to kick in 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. You may have to wait even longer than that if you have a sinus infection.

Getting your ears back to normal as quickly as you can, then, will normally involve a bit of patience (counterintuitive though it may be), and you should be able to modify your expectations according to your actual circumstances.

Your first and most important job is to not cause the situation to get worse. When your ears start feeling blocked, you might be inclined to pull out the old cotton swab and attempt to manually clean your ears out. All sorts of problems, from ear infections to loss of hearing, can come from using cotton swabs so this can be a particularly dangerous approach. If you use a cotton swab, you’re probably going to make the situation worse.

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

So, if your ear remains blocked on day two and you don’t have any really good ideas as to what’s causing it, you might be reasonably impatient. A few days is usually enough time for your body to get rid of any blockage. But the general rule of thumb is that if things persist for more than a week or so, it may be a wise choice to come in for a consultation.

Early indications of hearing loss can also feel like clogged ears. And as you most likely know from our other posts, neglected hearing loss can result in other health problems, especially over time.

Doing no further harm first will allow your body an opportunity to heal and clean that blockage away naturally. But when that fails, intervention may be necessary. How long that takes will fluctuate depending on the base 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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