It’s been a couple of days. There’s still total blockage in your right ear. The last time you were able to hear anything in that direction was 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 improve soon?
Exactly 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, though, if your blockage persists for any longer than a week, you might want to get some help.
When Should I Be Concerned About a Blocked Ear?
If you’re on day two of a blocked ear, you may start thinking about possible causes. You’ll probably start thinking about what you’ve been doing for the last couple of days: for example, did you get water in your ear somehow?
You may also consider your health. Are you dealing with the kind of pain or discomfort (or fever) that may be related to an ear infection? You might want to make an appointment if that’s the situation.
Those questions are actually just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of possible reasons for a clogged ear:
- Earwax Build-up: Earwax can result in blockages if it’s not properly draining or if it becomes compacted, hardening in place.
- Air pressure variations: If the pressure in the air changes all of a sudden, your eustachian tube can fail to compensate which can cause temporary blockage.
- Sinus infection: Sinus infections can produce fluid accumulate in your ears because your ears, throat, and nose are all connected (causing a clog).
- Permanent hearing loss: A blocked ear and some forms of permanent hearing loss can feel surprisingly similar. If your “clogged ear” is persisting longer than it should, you need to have it examined.
- Allergies: Fluid production and swelling can occur when the body’s immune system goes to work – in response to an allergic reaction.
- The eustachian tube or ear canal gets water stuck in it: Sweat and water can become trapped in the tiny places inside your ear with alarming ease. (Temporary blockage can definitely occur if you sweat heavily).
- Ear Infection: An ear infection can cause fluid buildup and inflammation that ultimately blocks your ears.
- Growths: Some kinds of growths, lumps, and bulges can result in a blocked feeling in your ears (and even interfere with your hearing).
How to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal as Quickly as Possible
So, if air pressure is the cause, your ears will usually go back to normal within a day or two. You might need to wait for your immune system to kick in if your blockage is due to an ear infection (and, if it’s the latter, antibiotics can really help). This could take up to a couple of weeks. You might have to wait even longer than that if you’re suffering from a sinus infection.
A bit of patience will be necessary before your ears return to normal (though that may feel counterintuitive), and you need to be able to modify your expectations according to your exact situation.
Not doing anything to exacerbate the situation is your most important first step. When you first start to feel like your ears are clogged, it might be tempting to try and use cotton swabs to clear them out. This can be an especially dangerous strategy (cotton swabs have been the cause of all kinds of issues and complications, 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, if your ear remains blocked after two days and you don’t have any really good clue as to what’s causing it, you might be reasonably impatient. In almost all cases, your blockage will take care of itself after a few days. But it may be, as a basic rule of thumb, a prudent decision to come see us if your blockage persists for more than a week.
That feeling of blocked ears can also be an indication of hearing loss. And you shouldn’t ignore hearing loss because, as you’ve most likely read in our other posts, it can cause a whole host of other health issues.
Being careful not to worsen the issue will normally permit the body to clear up the situation on its own. But when that fails, treatment might be necessary. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this might take a varying amount of time.