Audiology Associates of North Florida - Tallahassee, FL

Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now been a couple of days. Your right ear is still completely clogged. You haven’t been able to hear a thing in that direction since yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear works overtime to pick up the slack. 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 last depends, not unexpectedly, on what the cause of the blockage is. You may 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 may want to seek out some help.

When Should I Worry About a Clogged Ear?

If you’re on the second day of a blocked ear, you may begin to think about possible causes. Perhaps you’ll examine your behavior from the previous two or three days: for instance, did you somehow get water in your ear?

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

Those questions are really just the beginning. There are plenty of possible reasons for a blocked ear:

  • Growths: Your ears can get growths, bulges, and lumps which can even obstruct your ears.
  • Irreversible hearing loss: Some types of hearing loss feel a lot like a clogged ear. You need to schedule an appointment if your “clogged ear” lasts longer than it should.
  • Earwax Build-up: Earwax can lead to blockages if it’s not properly draining or if it becomes compressed, hardening in place.
  • The eustachian tube or ear canal gets water stuck in it: The little areas in the ear are surprisingly efficient at capturing sweat and water. (If you often sweat profusely, this can certainly end up temporarily blocking your ears).
  • Ear Infection: Your ear can eventually become blocked by fluid buildup or inflammation from an ear infection.
  • Air pressure variations: Occasionally, your Eustachian tube can fail to adjust properly to changes in air pressure, creating the feeling of a temporary blockage in your ear or ears.
  • Allergies: Fluid production and swelling can develop when the body’s immune system kicks in – in response to an allergic reaction.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can produce fluid accumulate in your ears because your ears, nose and throat are all interconnected (causing a clog).

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

Your ears will most likely go back to normal after a couple of days if the blockage is caused by air pressure. You might need to wait for your immune system to start working if your blockage is caused by an ear infection (you may need an antibiotic to speed things up). This may take up to a couple of weeks. You may have to wait even longer than that if you’re suffering from a sinus infection.

Some patience will be needed before your ears get back to normal (though that may seem counterintuitive), and you should be able to change your expectations according to your exact situation.

Not doing anything to aggravate the situation is your most important first step. When your ears begin to feel clogged, you might be inclined to take out the old cotton swab and start trying to physically clean your ears out. This can be an especially dangerous strategy (cotton swabs have been known to cause all kinds of problems and difficulties, from infection to hearing loss). You will probably worsen the situation if you use cotton swabs.

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

So, if your ear is still blocked on day two and you don’t have any really good clue as to what’s causing it, you may be justifiably impatient. In nearly all instances, your blockage will clear itself up after a few days. But it may be, as a general rule of thumb, a prudent decision to come see us if your blockage lasts for more than a week.

Early indications of hearing loss can also feel like blocked ears. And you shouldn’t neglect hearing loss because, as you’ve probably read in our other posts, it can result in a whole host of other health concerns.

Doing no further harm first will give your body an opportunity to heal and clean that blockage away naturally. But treatment might be needed when those natural means fail. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this may take a varying amount of time.

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