Puretone Hearing Aid Center - Longview, Marshall, and San Antonio, TX

Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now day two. 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 does double duty to compensate. It didn’t clear up after a night’s sleep as you hoped it would. So will your clogged ear improve soon?

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

As a rule of thumb, however, if your blockage lasts much longer than one week, you might want to get some help.

When Does a Blocked Ear Become a Concern?

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

You may also consider your health. Are you experiencing the kind of discomfort and pain (or fever) that could be related to an ear infection? You may want to make an appointment if that’s the case.

This line of questioning is merely a beginning. A blocked ear could have multiple potential causes:

  • Air pressure variations: If the pressure in the air changes all of a sudden, your eustachian tube can fail to compensate which can temporarily cause obstruction.
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can bring about fluid buildup and inflammation that eventually obstructs your ears.
  • Allergies: Swelling and fluid production can occur when the body’s immune system goes to work – in response to an allergic reaction.
  • The ear canal or eustachian tube gets water stuck in it: Water and sweat can get trapped in the little places inside your ear with surprising ease. (If you tend to sweat profusely, this can certainly end up clogging your ears temporarily).
  • Permanent loss of hearing: Some types of hearing loss feel a lot like a clogged ear. If your “blocked ear” is persisting longer than it should, you need to get it checked out.
  • Growths: Some kinds of growths, lumps, and bulges can result in a blocked feeling in your ears (and even obstruct your hearing).
  • Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, ears and throat are all connected, a sinus infection can cause excess fluids to become lodged in your ears (causing a clog).
  • Build-up of earwax: If earwax becomes compacted or is not thoroughly draining it can result in blockages..

How to Get 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 to blame for your blocked ears, you may have to wait until your body gets rid of the virus or bacteria at work (you might need an antibiotic to speed things up). And that might take as much as a week or two. Sinus infections sometimes stick around even longer.

Some patience will be needed before your ears get back to normal (counterintuitive though it may be), and you need to be able to change your expectations according to your actual circumstances.

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 might be tempting to try and use cotton swabs to clear them out. All kinds of issues, from ear infections to loss of hearing, can come from using cotton swabs so this can be an especially dangerous strategy. If you use a cotton swab, you’re more likely to make the situation worse.

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

So you could be getting a bit antsy if a couple of days pass and you still have no idea what might be the cause of your blockage. A few days is usually enough time for your body to clear up any blockage. But the general rule of thumb is that if things persist for more than a week or so, it might be a wise idea 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 probably read in our other posts, it can lead to a whole host of other health problems.

Being careful not to worsen the problem will normally allow the body to clear up the matter on its own. But when that fails, treatment could be necessary. 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.