It’s now been a couple of days. There’s still total obstruction in your right ear. The last time you remember hearing anything in that direction was yesterday morning. Your left ear is picking up the slack, of course, but only hearing from one direction is leaving you feeling off-balance. It didn’t improve after a night’s sleep as you hoped it would. So will your blocked ear clear up soon?
Exactly how long your blockage will persist depends, not unexpectedly, on what the cause of the blockage is. You could need to get medical attention if your blockage isn’t the kind that clears itself up quickly.
As a rule of thumb, however, if your blockage persists for any longer than one week, you may want to get some help.
When Does a Blocked Ear Become a Worry?
If you’re on the second day of a blocked ear, you may start thinking about possible causes. Perhaps you’ll think about your behavior from the past couple of days: for example, did you get water in your ear somehow?
You may also examine your health. Do have any symptoms of an ear infection? You may want to make an appointment if that’s the case.
This line of questioning is only a beginning. There are plenty of possible reasons for a clogged ear:
- Accumulation of earwax: Earwax can result in blockages if it’s not effectively draining or if it becomes compressed, hardening in place.
- Sinus infection: Sinus infections can cause fluid to buildup in your ears because your ears, throat, and nose are all interconnected (causing a clog).
- Changes in air pressure: If the pressure in the air changes all of a sudden, your eustachian tube can fail to adjust which can cause temporary blockage.
- Allergies: Certain pollen allergies can spark the body’s immune system reaction, which will then produces swelling and fluid.
- Growths: Certain kinds of growths, lumps, and bulges can result in a blocked feeling in your ears (and even obstruct your hearing).
- Permanent hearing loss: A clogged ear and some kinds of permanent hearing loss can feel remarkably similar. You should schedule an appointment if your “clogged ear” persists longer than it should.
- Ear Infection: An ear infection can cause fluid buildup and inflammation that ultimately blocks your ears.
- The eustachian tube or ear canal gets water trapped in it: Sweat and water can get stuck in the tiny places inside your ear with surprising ease. (Short-term blockage can certainly occur if you sweat profusely).
How to Get Your Ears Back to Normal as Quickly as You Can
So, if air pressure is the culprit, your ears will normally get back to normal within a day or two. If an ear infection is behind your blocked ears, you might have to wait until your body gets rid of the virus or bacteria at work (you might need an antibiotic to get faster relief). This could take up to a couple of weeks. You might have to wait even longer than that if you have a sinus infection.
A bit of patience will be needed before your ears get back to normal (counterintuitive though it may be), and you should be able to modify your expectations according to your actual situation.
Your first and most important task is to not cause the situation to get worse. 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. All kinds of problems, from ear infections to loss of hearing, can come from using cotton swabs so this can be an extremely dangerous strategy. If you use a cotton swab, you’re more likely to make things worse.
It’s Possible That Your “Blockage” is Hearing Loss
So you might be getting a bit antsy if a couple of days go by and you still have no clue what might be the cause of your blockage. In nearly all cases, your blockage will take care of itself after a few days. But the general rule of thumb is that if things last for more than a week or so, it may be a wise idea to come in for a consultation.
Early indications of hearing loss can also feel like clogged ears. And as you most likely understand from our other posts, neglected hearing loss can cause other health issues, especially over time.
Doing no additional harm first will give your body a chance to heal and clear that blockage away naturally. But intervention could be needed when those natural means fail. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this could take a varying amount of time.