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Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now been a couple of days. There’s still complete blockage in your right ear. 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 works overtime to pick up the slack. You were hoping it would have cleared up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not the case. So will your blocked ear improve soon?

Exactly how long your blockage will persist depends, not unexpectedly, on what the cause of the blockage is. Some blockages recede on their own and rather quickly at that; others could persist and require medical intervention.

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

When Should I Be Concerned About a Clogged Ear?

If you’re on the second day of a blocked ear, you might start thinking about possible causes. Maybe you’ll think about your activities from the last couple of days: for instance, did you somehow get water in your ear?

How about your state of health? Do have any symptoms of an ear infection? If that’s the case, you may want to schedule an appointment.

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

  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can cause inflammation and fluid buildup that eventually blocks your ears.
  • Allergies: Various pollen allergies can trigger the body’s immune system response, which will then cause swelling and fluid.
  • Air pressure changes: On occasion, your Eustachian tube can fail to adjust properly to variations in air pressure, causing the feeling of a temporary blockage in your ear or ears.
  • Water stuck in the ear canal or eustachian tube: Sweat and water can get stuck in the little areas of your ear with alarming ease. (Short-term blockage can definitely develop if you sweat heavily).
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can cause fluid to buildup in your ears because your ears, nose and throat are all interconnected (causing a clog).
  • Irreversible loss of hearing: Some forms of hearing loss feel a lot like a clogged ear. You should make an appointment if your “blocked ear” lasts longer than it should.
  • Growths: Your ears can get growths, lumps, and bulges which can even block your ears.
  • Earwax accumulation: Earwax can lead to blockages if it’s not properly draining or if it becomes compressed, hardening in place.

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

Your ears will most likely go back to normal after a couple of days if the blockage is caused by air pressure. If an ear infection is to blame for your clogged ears, you might have to wait until your body gets rid of the virus or bacteria at work (you may need an antibiotic to get faster relief). This may take up to a couple of weeks. Sinus infections sometimes stick around even longer.

Getting your ears back to normal as quickly as you can, then, will usually involve some patience (counterintuitive though it might be), and you need to be able to modify your expectations according to your actual situation.

Not doing anything to exacerbate the situation is your most important first step. When you first start to feel like your ears are blocked, it might be tempting to attempt to use cotton swabs to clean them out. All kinds of problems, from ear infections to loss of hearing, can be caused by cotton swabs so this can be an extremely dangerous strategy. You will probably worsen the situation if you use cotton swabs.

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

So, if your ear is still clogged after two days and you don’t have any really good ideas as to what’s causing it, you might be understandably impatient. A few days is normally enough time for your body to get rid of any blockage. But it might be, as a basic rule of thumb, a prudent idea to come see us if your blockage lasts for more than a week.

That feeling of clogged ears can also be a sign of hearing loss. And as you most likely know from our other posts, neglected hearing loss can result in other health problems, especially over time.

Being cautious not to worsen the issue will normally allow the body to take care of the matter on its own. But intervention could be needed when those natural means fail. How long that takes will fluctuate depending on the underlying cause of your blocked ears.

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