You’re on day two. Your right ear is still completely blocked. 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 works overtime to pick up the slack. You thought it might up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not happening. So, how long will your blocked ear last?
It most likely won’t be a huge surprise to discover that the number one variable in predicting the duration of your clogged ear will be the cause of the obstruction. Some blockages recede by themselves and rather quickly at that; others may persist and call for medical treatment.
You shouldn’t allow your blockage to linger for longer than one week, as a rule of thumb, without having it checked.
When Does a Clogged Ear Become a Concern?
You will most likely begin to think about the reason for your blockage after about two days. You’ll probably start thinking about your activities for the last couple of days: were you involved in anything that could have led to water getting stuck in your ear, for example?
You may also think about your health. Do have any symptoms of an ear infection? If that’s the scenario, you might want to schedule an appointment.
Those questions are actually just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of potential reasons for a blocked ear:
- The ear canal or eustachian tube gets water stuck in it: Sweat and water can get stuck in the little places inside your ear with surprising ease. (Short-term blockage can definitely occur if you sweat profusely).
- Irreversible hearing impairment: Some kinds of hearing loss feel a lot like a blocked ear. If your “blocked ear” is persisting longer than it should, you need to get it checked out.
- Sinus infection: Sinus infections can produce fluid accumulate in your ears because your ears, nose and throat are all connected (causing a clog).
- Growths: Your ears can have growths, lumps, and bulges which can even block your ears.
- Air pressure changes: If the pressure in the air changes abruptly, your eustachian tube can fail to adjust which can cause temporary blockage.
- Build-up of earwax: Earwax can cause blockages if it’s not effectively draining or if it becomes compacted, hardening in place.
- Allergies: Some pollen allergies can spark the body’s immune system response, which in turn produces swelling and fluid.
- Ear Infection: An ear infection can cause fluid buildup and inflammation that eventually blocks your ears.
How to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal as Fast as Possible
Your ears will probably go back to normal after a couple of days if air pressure is causing your blockage. If an ear infection is behind your clogged ears, you may have to wait until your body gets rid of the virus or bacteria at work (you may need an antibiotic to get faster relief). This may take up to a couple of weeks. Sinus infections have been known to stick around even longer.
Getting your ears back to normal as quickly as you can, then, will usually involve some patience (though that may feel counterintuitive), and you need to be able to modify your expectations according to your actual circumstances.
Your first and most important task is to not make the situation worse. When you first start to feel like your ears are blocked, it may be tempting to attempt to use cotton swabs to clear them out. All sorts of problems, from ear infections to loss of hearing, can come from using cotton swabs so this can be a particularly dangerous strategy. You will most likely make the situation worse if you use cotton swabs.
It’s Possible That Your “Blockage” is Hearing Loss
So, if your ear remains clogged on day two and you don’t have any really good ideas as to what’s causing it, you may be justifiably impatient. 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 persist for more than a week or so, it may be a smart choice to come see us.
That feeling of clogged ears can also be an indication of hearing loss. And as you most likely understand from our other posts, untreated hearing loss can result in other health problems, particularly over time.
Doing no further harm first will allow your body a chance to heal and clean that blockage away naturally. But intervention could be necessary when those natural means fail. How long that takes will vary depending on the underlying cause of your blocked ears.