Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now day two. Your right ear is still totally clogged. 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 thought it might up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not happening. So, how long will your ear remain blocked?

Exactly how long your blockage will last depends, not surprisingly, on what the cause of the blockage is. You could need to seek out medical attention if your blockage is not the type that clears itself up quickly.

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

When Does a Blocked Ear Become a Concern?

You will probably begin to think about the reason for your blockage after around a couple of days. You’ll most likely start thinking about your activities over the past couple of days: for instance, did you get water in your ear somehow?

You may also examine your health. Are you suffering from the kind of pain or discomfort (or fever) that could be related to an ear infection? If that’s the scenario, you may want to make an appointment.

Those questions are really just the beginning. A clogged ear could have numerous potential causes:

  • Build-up of earwax: If earwax becomes compacted or is not properly draining it can result in blockages..
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can cause inflammation and fluid buildup that eventually blocks your ears.
  • Irreversible hearing loss: A clogged ear and some forms of permanent hearing loss can feel remarkably similar. You need to schedule an appointment if your “clogged ear” persists longer than it should.
  • Allergies: Fluid production and swelling can develop when the body’s immune system goes to work – as a reaction to an allergic reaction.
  • Water trapped in the ear canal or eustachian tube: The little places inside the ear are alarmingly good at trapping water and sweat. (Short-term blockage can definitely develop if you sweat profusely).
  • Growths: Certain kinds of growths, bulges, and lumps can cause a clogged feeling in your ears (and even obstruct your hearing).
  • Air pressure variations: If the pressure in the air changes abruptly, your eustachian tube can fail to adjust which can cause temporary blockage.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can cause fluid to accumulate in your ears because your ears, nose and throat are all connected (causing a clog).

How to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal as Quickly as Possible

Your ears will probably 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 blocked ears, you might 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 may take up to a week or two. Sinus infections have been known to stick around even longer.

A bit of patience will be necessary before your ears return to normal (counterintuitive though it may be), and your expectations need to be, well, variable.

The number one most important task is to not cause the situation to get worse. When you first begin to feel like your ears are clogged, it may be tempting to try and use cotton swabs to clear them out. All kinds of problems, from ear infections to hearing loss, 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.

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

So, if your ear remains clogged on day two and you don’t have any really great clue as to what’s causing it, you may be reasonably impatient. In nearly all instances, your blockage will take care of itself after a few days. But the general rule of thumb is that if things last for more than a week or so, it may be a wise choice to come in for a consultation.

That feeling of clogged ears can also be an indication of hearing loss. And you don’t want to ignore hearing loss because, as you’ve most likely read in our other posts, it can lead to a whole host of other health concerns.

Doing no further harm first will allow your body a chance to heal and clear that blockage away naturally. But treatment might be necessary when those natural means fail. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this might 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.