Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now been two days. There’s still complete obstruction in your right ear. You haven’t been able to hear a thing on that side since yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear does double duty to pick up the slack. You thought it might up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not the case. So, how long will your ear remain blocked?

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

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

When Does a Blocked Ear Become a Worry?

You will probably begin to think about the reason for your blockage after around a couple of days. Perhaps you’ll examine your activities from the last two or three days: were you involved in anything that might have led to water getting trapped in your ear, for example?

How about the condition of your health? Do have any symptoms of an ear infection? You might want to schedule an appointment if that’s the situation.

This line of questioning is merely a starting point. There are plenty of potential causes for a clogged ear:

  • Growths: Your ears can have growths, lumps, and bulges which can even obstruct your ears.
  • Irreversible loss of hearing: Some forms of hearing loss feel a lot like a clogged ear. If your “blocked ear” is persisting longer than it should, you need to have it checked out.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can produce fluid buildup in your ears because your ears, nose and throat are all connected (causing a clog).
  • Allergies: Fluid production and swelling can occur when the body’s immune system goes to work – as a reaction to an allergic reaction.
  • Air pressure changes: If the pressure in the air changes all of a sudden, your eustachian tube can fail to compensate which can cause temporary obstruction.
  • Water trapped in the ear canal or eustachian tube: The tiny places inside the ear are alarmingly efficient at trapping sweat and water. (If you often sweat copiously, this can definitely end up temporarily blocking your ears).
  • Ear Infection: Your ear can ultimately become clogged by fluid buildup or inflammation due to an ear infection.
  • Build-up of earwax: Earwax can lead to blockages if it’s not properly draining or if it becomes compacted, hardening in place.

The Quickest Way to Get Your Ears Back to Normal

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 might have to wait until your body gets rid of the virus or bacteria at work (and, if it’s the latter, antibiotics can be very helpful). And that could take up to a week or two. Sinus infections sometimes last even longer.

A bit of patience will be needed before your ears get back to normal (though that might seem counterintuitive), and you should be able to change your expectations according to your exact circumstances.

Not doing anything to exacerbate the situation is the first and most important step. When your ears begin feeling clogged, you might be inclined to take out the old cotton swab and start trying to manually clean your ears out. All kinds of issues, from ear infections to loss of hearing, can be caused by cotton swabs so this can be a particularly dangerous approach. If you use a cotton swab, you’re probably going to make things worse.

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

So, if your ear is still blocked after two days and you don’t have any really great clue as to what’s causing it, you might be reasonably impatient. A few days is normally enough time for your body to get rid of any blockage. But it might be, as a basic rule of thumb, a good idea to come see us if your blockage lasts for more than a week.

That sensation of feeling like your ears are blocked can also be an indication of hearing loss. And as you most likely understand from our other posts, neglected hearing loss can cause other health concerns, especially over time.

Doing no additional harm first will give your body an opportunity to heal and clean that blockage away naturally. But treatment may be needed when those natural means fail. How long that takes will fluctuate depending on the underlying cause of your blocked ears.

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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.
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