What is That Blocking my Ears?

Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

You’re on day two. Your right ear is still totally clogged. You haven’t been able to hear anything in that direction since yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear works overtime 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 clogged?

It probably won’t be a great shock to find out that the single biggest factor in projecting the duration of your blocked ear is the cause of the obstruction. You could need to get medical attention if your blockage is not the kind that clears itself up quickly.

You shouldn’t allow your blockage to linger for longer than a week, as a rule of thumb, without getting it checked.

When Should I Be Concerned About a Clogged Ear?

You will probably start contemplating the reason for your blockage after about two days. Perhaps you’ll examine your behavior from the past couple of days: for instance, did you somehow get water in your ear?

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

Those questions are actually just the tip of the iceberg. A blocked ear could have numerous possible causes:

  • Growths: Your ears can get growths, lumps, and bulges which can even block your ears.
  • The ear canal or eustachian tube gets water trapped in it: Water and sweat can become stuck in the little areas of your ear with alarming ease. (Temporary blockage can definitely occur if you sweat profusely).
  • Allergies: Swelling and fluid production can occur when the body’s immune system goes to work – in response to an allergic reaction.
  • Ear Infection: Your ear can ultimately become blocked by fluid buildup or inflammation from an ear infection.
  • Variations in air pressure: If the pressure in the air changes suddenly, your eustachian tube can fail to adjust which can cause temporary obstruction.
  • Accumulation of earwax: Earwax can cause blockages if it’s not effectively draining or if it becomes compacted, hardening in place.
  • Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, throat, and ears are all connected, a sinus infection can produce excess fluids to become lodged in your ears (causing a clog).
  • Permanent hearing impairment: Some types of hearing loss feel a lot like a blocked ear. If your “blocked ear” is lasting longer than it should, you need to have it examined.

How to Get Your Ears Back to Normal as Quickly as You Can

Your ears will probably go back to normal after a couple of days if the blockage is caused by air pressure. You might need to wait for your immune system to start working if your blockage is due to an ear infection (and, if it’s the latter, antibiotics can really help). And that could take as much as a week or two. You might have to wait even longer than that if you’re suffering from a sinus infection.

Some patience will be necessary before your ears return to normal (though that might feel counterintuitive), and you need to be able to adjust your expectations according to your actual situation.

The number one most important task is to not cause the situation to get worse. When you first begin to feel like your ears are clogged, it might be tempting to attempt to use cotton swabs to clean them out. All kinds of issues, from ear infections to hearing loss, can come from using cotton swabs so this can be an extremely dangerous strategy. You will probably worsen the situation if you use cotton swabs.

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

So you may be getting a little antsy if a couple of days pass and you still have no clue what might be the cause of your blockage. A few days is usually enough time for your body to get rid of any blockage. But it may be, as a general rule of thumb, a prudent decision to come see us if your blockage lasts for more than a week.

Early indications of hearing loss can also feel like blocked ears. And as you most likely know from our other posts, untreated hearing loss can cause other health concerns, especially over time.

Being cautious not to worsen the problem will normally permit the body to clear up the matter on its own. But when that fails, intervention may be required. How long that takes will fluctuate depending on the root cause of your blocked ears.

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.