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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 remember hearing anything on that side was yesterday morning. Your left ear is picking up the slack, of course, but only hearing from a single direction is leaving you feeling off-balance. You were hoping it would have cleared up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not the case. So will your blocked ear clear up soon?

It most likely won’t be a great shock to discover that the single biggest variable in projecting the duration of your clogged ear will be the cause of the blockage. Some blockages go away on their own and somewhat quickly at that; others might persist and call for medical intervention.

You shouldn’t let your blockage to linger for more than one week, as a general rule, without having it examined.

When Does a Blocked Ear Become a Concern?

You will most likely start contemplating the reason for your blockage after around a couple of days. You’ll probably begin to think about what you’ve been doing for the last couple of days: were you involved in anything that might have resulted in water getting trapped in your ear, for instance?

How about the condition of your health? Are you experiencing the sort of pain or discomfort (or fever) that might be connected to an ear infection? You may want to make an appointment if that’s the case.

Those questions are actually just the tip of the iceberg. A clogged ear could have numerous possible causes:

  • Growths: Your ears can get growths, bulges, and lumps which can even block your ears.
  • Irreversible loss of hearing: A blocked ear and some kinds of irreversible hearing loss can feel surprisingly similar. If your “blocked ear” is lasting longer than it should, you need to get it examined.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can produce fluid buildup in your ears because your ears, nose and throat are all connected (causing a clog).
  • The ear canal or eustachian tube gets water stuck in it: The tiny places inside the ear are surprisingly good at capturing sweat and water. (Temporary blockage can certainly occur if you sweat heavily).
  • Allergies: Swelling and fluid production can develop when the body’s immune system kicks in – in response to an allergic reaction.
  • Air pressure changes: If the pressure in the air changes suddenly, your eustachian tube can fail to compensate which can temporarily cause obstruction.
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can cause fluid buildup and inflammation that ultimately obstructs your ears.
  • Earwax Build-up: If earwax becomes compressed or is not properly draining it can result in blockages..

The Quickest Way to Get Your Ears Back to Normal

Your ears will probably go back to normal after a couple of days if the blockage is caused by air pressure. You might have to wait for your immune system to start working if your blockage is due to an ear infection (and, if it’s the latter, antibiotics can really help). This may take up to a couple of weeks. Sinus infections sometimes last even longer.

Getting your ears back to normal as fast as you can, then, will usually involve some patience (though that might seem counterintuitive), and you need to be able to modify your expectations based on 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 may be tempting to try and use cotton swabs to clear them out. All sorts of issues, from ear infections to hearing loss, can come from using cotton swabs so this can be an especially dangerous approach. If you use a cotton swab, you’re probably going to make things worse.

If Your Ear is Still clogged After a Week…it Might be Hearing Loss

So you might be getting a bit antsy if a couple of days pass and you still have no clue what could be causing your blockage. In almost all instances, your blockage will take care of itself after a few days. But the basic rule of thumb is that if things last for more than a week or so, it might be a good idea to come in for a consultation.

That sensation of feeling like your ears are blocked can also be an indication of hearing loss. And you shouldn’t neglect hearing loss because, as you’ve probably read in our other posts, it can lead to a whole range of other health problems.

Being careful not to worsen the issue will normally allow the body to clear up the situation on its own. But when that fails, treatment may be necessary. How long that takes will fluctuate depending on the root cause of your blocked ears.

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