Geneva Hearing Services - Geneva, IL

Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now been two days. Your right ear is still completely blocked. You haven’t been able to hear anything in that direction since 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 were hoping it would. So will your blocked ear clear up soon?

Precisely how long your blockage will persist 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 type that clears itself up quickly.

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 Worry About a Clogged Ear?

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

How about the condition of your health? Are you suffering from any symptoms of an ear infection? You may want to schedule an appointment if that’s the case.

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

  • Earwax Build-up: If earwax becomes compacted or is not thoroughly draining it can result in blockages..
  • Water trapped in the eustachian tube or ear canal: Sweat and water can get stuck in the little areas of your ear with alarming ease. (If you often sweat profusely, this can definitely end up temporarily blocking your ears).
  • Permanent hearing loss: A blocked ear and some forms of permanent hearing loss can feel remarkably similar. If your “blocked ear” is lasting longer than it should, you need to have it examined.
  • Air pressure changes: On occasion, your Eustachian tube can fail to adjust properly to changes in air pressure, creating the feeling of a temporary blockage in one or both ears.
  • Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, throat, and ears are all interconnected, a sinus infection can create excess fluids to become lodged in your ears (causing a clog).
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can bring about fluid buildup and inflammation that ultimately obstructs your ears.
  • Growths: Certain types of growths, bulges, and lumps can result in a blocked feeling in your ears (and even obstruct your hearing).
  • Allergies: Fluid production and swelling can occur when the body’s immune system kicks in – in response to an allergic reaction.

The Quickest Way to Get Your Ears Back to Normal

Your ears will most likely return to normal after a couple of days if air pressure is causing your blockage. If an ear infection is to blame for your clogged ears, you might have to wait until your body fights off the virus or bacteria at work (and, if it’s the latter, antibiotics can really help). This could take up to a couple of weeks. You may have to wait even longer than that if you’re suffering from a sinus infection.

Getting your ears back to normal as fast as possible, then, will often involve some patience (counterintuitive though it might be), and you need to be able to change your expectations based on your actual circumstances.

Your first and most important job is to not make the situation worse. When your ears start to feel clogged, you might be tempted to pull out the old cotton swab and start trying to manually clean your ears out. This can be a very dangerous strategy (cotton swabs have been the cause of all kinds of issues and difficulties, from infection to loss of hearing). You will probably worsen the situation if you use cotton swabs.

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

So you may be getting a bit antsy if a couple of days pass and you still have no clue what could be the cause of your blockage. In almost all cases, your blockage will clear itself up after a few days. But the general rule of thumb is that if things persist for more than a week or so, it might be a good decision to come in for a consultation.

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

Being cautious not to worsen the problem will normally allow the body to clear up the situation on its own. But treatment may be needed when those natural means do not succeed. How long that takes will vary depending on the underlying cause of your clogged ears.

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