It’s now day two. There’s still complete blockage in your right ear. 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 does double duty to pick up the slack. You were hoping it would have cleared 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 great shock to learn that the single biggest factor in predicting the duration of your clogged ear will be the cause of the blockage. Some blockages go away by themselves and somewhat quickly at that; others might persist and require medical intervention.
You shouldn’t let your blockage to linger for longer than a week, as a rule of thumb, without having it checked.
When Does a Blocked Ear Become a Concern?
If you’re on day two of a blocked ear, you might start thinking about potential causes. You’ll probably start thinking about what you’ve been doing for the past couple of days: for example, did you somehow get water in your ear?
You might also consider your health. Are you experiencing the sort of pain or discomfort (or fever) that may be linked to an ear infection? If that’s the case, you may want to make an appointment.
Those questions are truly just the tip of the iceberg. A clogged ear could have numerous potential causes:
- Water trapped in the ear canal or eustachian tube: Sweat and water can get trapped in the little places inside your ear with surprising ease. (If you tend to sweat copiously, this can definitely end up temporarily blocking your ears).
- Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, ears and throat are all connected, a sinus infection can create excess fluids to become lodged in your ears (causing a clog).
- Ear Infection: An ear infection can bring about fluid buildup and inflammation that eventually obstructs your ears.
- Accumulation of earwax: Earwax can lead to blockages if it’s not thoroughly draining or if it becomes compressed, hardening in place.
- Irreversible loss of hearing: Some kinds of hearing loss feel a lot like a clogged ear. If your “clogged ear” is persisting longer than it should, you need to have it checked out.
- Changes in air pressure: On occasion, your Eustachian tube can fail to properly adjust to changes in air pressure, creating the feeling of a temporary blockage in your ear or ears.
- Growths: Certain kinds of growths, bulges, and lumps can result in a blocked feeling in your ears (and even interfere with your hearing).
- Allergies: Various pollen allergies can spark the body’s immune system reaction, which will then generate fluid and swelling.
How to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal as Quickly as Possible
So, if air pressure is the cause, your ears will usually get back to normal in a day or two. You may 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 be very helpful). This may take up to a couple of weeks. Sinus infections have been known to stick around even longer.
Bringing your ears back to normal as rapidly as you can, then, will normally involve a bit of patience (though that may seem counterintuitive), and your expectations should be, well, variable.
Your first and most important job is to not make the situation worse. When your ears start to feel clogged, you may be inclined to pull out the old cotton swab and start trying to manually clean things out. This can be a particularly dangerous strategy (cotton swabs have been the cause of all kinds of issues and difficulties, from infection to loss of hearing). You will most likely make the situation worse if you use cotton swabs.
If Your Ear is Still Blocked After a Week…it Might be 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 may be understandably impatient. A few days is usually enough time for your body to eliminate any blockage. But the general rule of thumb is that if things persist for more than a week or so, it might be a smart idea to come see us.
Early signs of hearing loss can also feel like blocked ears. And you shouldn’t ignore hearing loss because, as you’ve most likely read in our other posts, it can lead to a whole range of other health issues.
Being cautious not to worsen the issue will normally permit the body to clear up the matter on its own. But treatment might be needed when those natural means fail. How long that takes will fluctuate depending on the underlying cause of your blocked ears.