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Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

You’re on day two. There’s still complete obstruction in your right ear. The last time you were able to hear anything in that direction was yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear works overtime to compensate. It didn’t improve after a night’s sleep as you hoped it would. So will your blocked ear improve soon?

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

As a general rule, though, if your blockage persists much longer than a week, you might want to get some help.

When Should I Worry About a Clogged Ear?

If you’re on the second day of a clogged ear, you may start thinking about possible causes. You’ll most likely start thinking about what you’ve been doing for the past couple of days: for example, did you somehow get water in your ear?

You might also consider your health. Are you suffering from 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 beginning. A blocked ear could have multiple potential causes:

  • Permanent loss of hearing: A clogged ear and some types of permanent hearing loss can feel surprisingly similar. If your “blocked ear” is lasting longer than it should, you need to have it examined.
  • Air pressure changes: If the pressure in the air changes abruptly, your eustachian tube can fail to compensate which can temporarily cause obstruction.
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can cause inflammation and fluid buildup that ultimately obstructs your ears.
  • Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, ears and throat are all interconnected, a sinus infection can cause excess fluids to become stuck in your ears (causing a clog).
  • Growths: Your ears can get growths, bulges, and lumps which can even obstruct your ears.
  • Water trapped in the ear canal or eustachian tube: The little places inside the ear are alarmingly good at trapping water and sweat. (If you often sweat copiously, this can certainly end up temporarily clogging your ears).
  • Allergies: Various pollen allergies can trigger the body’s immune system reaction, which will then generate fluid and swelling.
  • Build-up of earwax: If earwax becomes compressed or is not properly draining it can result in blockages..

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

Your ears will probably return to normal after a couple of days if the blockage is caused by air pressure. If an ear infection is behind your clogged ears, you may have to wait until your body fights off the virus or bacteria at work (you may need an antibiotic to get faster relief). And that may take up to a week or two. Sinus infections have been known to stick around even longer.

Some patience will be necessary before your ears return to normal (though that may feel counterintuitive), and you should be able to adjust your expectations based on your exact situation.

The number one most important job is to not make the situation worse. When your ears start feeling blocked, you might be inclined to pull out the old cotton swab and try to physically clean your ears out. All sorts of issues, from ear infections to loss of hearing, can come from using cotton swabs so this can be an especially dangerous approach. You will most likely worsen the situation if you use cotton swabs.

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

So, if your ear remains clogged after two days and you don’t have any really great ideas as to what’s causing it, you might be understandably impatient. In nearly all instances, your blockage will clear itself up after a few days. But it may be, as a basic rule of thumb, a good decision to come see us if your blockage persists for more than a week.

Early signs of hearing loss can also feel like blocked ears. And as you most likely understand from our other posts, untreated hearing loss can cause other health problems, especially over time.

Being careful not to worsen the problem will normally allow the body to clear up the matter on its own. But intervention may be necessary when those natural means fail. How long that takes will fluctuate depending on the base cause of your clogged 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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