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Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now been two days. There’s still complete obstruction in your right ear. The last time you were able to hear anything in that direction was yesterday morning. Your left ear is picking up the slack, of course, but only hearing from one direction is leaving you feeling off-balance. You thought it might up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not happening. So will your clogged ear clear up soon?

It most likely won’t be a big surprise to learn that the single biggest variable in predicting the duration of your blocked ear is the cause of the obstruction. You might need to get medical attention if your blockage isn’t the type that clears itself up quickly.

You shouldn’t allow your blockage to linger for longer than a week, as a rule of thumb, without getting it checked.

When Does a Clogged Ear Become a Concern?

You will most likely begin to think about the cause of your blockage after around a couple of days. Maybe you’ll examine your activities from the past two or three days: were you doing anything that could have led to water getting stuck in your ear, for example?

You might also examine your health. Are you suffering from any symptoms of an ear infection? You might want to make an appointment if that’s the situation.

Those questions are really just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of potential causes for a blocked ear:

  • Allergies: Swelling and fluid production can occur when the body’s immune system goes to work – in response to an allergic reaction.
  • Water trapped in the eustachian tube or ear canal: Sweat and water can become trapped in the tiny places inside your ear with alarming ease. (If you often sweat copiously, this can definitely end up blocking your ears temporarily).
  • Growths: Your ears can get growths, bulges, and lumps which can even obstruct your ears.
  • Build-up of earwax: Earwax can lead to blockages if it’s not effectively draining or if it becomes compressed, hardening in place.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can cause fluid to accumulate in your ears because your ears, throat, and nose are all interconnected (causing a clog).
  • Ear Infection: Your ear can eventually become obstructed by fluid buildup or inflammation from an ear infection.
  • Air pressure variations: If the pressure in the air changes abruptly, your eustachian tube can fail to compensate which can temporarily cause obstruction.
  • Permanent hearing impairment: Some kinds of hearing loss feel a lot like a blocked ear. If your “blocked ear” is persisting longer than it should, you need to have it examined.

The Fastest Way to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal

Your ears will most likely go back to normal after a couple of days if air pressure is causing your blockage. If an ear infection is to blame for your blocked ears, you may have to wait until your body gets rid of the virus or bacteria at work (you may need an antibiotic to speed things up). And that might take up to a week or two. Sinus infections have been known to stick around even longer.

Some patience will be required before your ears get back to normal (though that may feel counterintuitive), and you should be able to adjust your expectations according to your actual circumstances.

The number one most important task is to not cause the situation to get worse. When your ears begin feeling blocked, you might be inclined to take out the old cotton swab and start trying to manually clear your ears 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 may be getting a little antsy if a couple of days go by and you still have no clue what could be causing your blockage. 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 last for more than a week or so, it might be a smart idea to come see us.

Early indications of hearing loss can also feel like clogged ears. And you shouldn’t neglect hearing loss because, as you’ve most likely read in our other posts, it can result in a whole range of other health concerns.

Doing no additional damage first will give your body a chance to mend and clear that blockage away naturally. But when that fails, intervention might be necessary. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this could 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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