You’re on day two. Your right ear is still completely clogged. You haven’t been able to hear anything on that side since yesterday morning. Your left ear is trying to compensate, of course, but only being able to hear from one direction leaves you off-balance. You thought it might up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not happening. So will your clogged ear improve soon?
It most likely won’t be a huge surprise to find out that the number one variable in predicting the duration of your clogged ear will be the cause of the obstruction. You could need to seek out medical attention if your blockage isn’t the type that clears itself up quickly.
You shouldn’t allow your blockage to linger for longer than one week, as a general rule, without getting it examined.
When Should I Worry About a Blocked Ear?
You will probably start contemplating the cause of your blockage after about two days. Maybe you’ll examine your activities from the previous two or three days: for instance, did you get water in your ear somehow?
You may also examine your health. Are you suffering from the sort of discomfort and pain (or fever) that may be connected to an ear infection? You might want to schedule an appointment if that’s the situation.
This line of questioning is merely a starting point. A clogged ear could have numerous potential causes:
- Ear Infection: An ear infection can cause inflammation and fluid buildup that ultimately blocks your ears.
- Earwax Build-up: If earwax gets compacted or is not thoroughly draining it can cause blockages..
- Growths: Your ears can get growths, bulges, and lumps which can even obstruct your ears.
- Changes in air pressure: If the pressure in the air changes abruptly, your eustachian tube can fail to adjust which can cause temporary blockage.
- Water stuck in the ear canal or eustachian tube: Sweat and water can get stuck in the little places inside your ear with alarming ease. (If you often sweat copiously, this can definitely end up blocking your ears temporarily).
- Irreversible hearing impairment: A blocked ear and some forms of permanent hearing loss can feel surprisingly similar. You should make an appointment if your “clogged ear” lasts longer than it should.
- Allergies: Certain pollen allergies can spark the body’s immune system response, which in turn cause fluid and swelling.
- Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, throat, and ears are all interconnected, a sinus infection can create excess fluids to become stuck in your ears (causing a clog).
The Fastest Way to Get Your Ears Back to Normal
Your ears will most likely 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 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. Sinus infections sometimes stick around even longer.
Getting your ears back to normal as rapidly as you can, then, will often involve a bit of patience (though that may feel counterintuitive), and your expectations need to be, well, adjustable.
Not doing anything to aggravate the situation is your most important first step. When you first start to feel like your ears are plugged, it might be tempting to attempt to use cotton swabs to clean them out. This can be a very hazardous strategy (cotton swabs have been known to cause all kinds of issues and complications, from infection to loss of hearing). If you use a cotton swab, you’re more likely to make the situation worse.
If Your Ear is Still Clogged After a Week…it May be Hearing Loss
So you may be getting a little antsy if a couple of days go by and you still have no idea what might be the cause of your blockage. In almost all instances, your blockage will clear itself up 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 wise choice to come in for a consultation.
That sensation of feeling like your ears are blocked can also be a sign of hearing loss. And you shouldn’t ignore hearing loss because, as you’ve most likely read in our other posts, it can result in a whole host of other health issues.
Being careful not to worsen the problem will usually permit the body to clear up the situation on its own. But treatment may be required when those natural means do not succeed. How long that takes will fluctuate depending on the underlying cause of your clogged ears.