Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now day two. There’s still complete blockage in your right ear. The last time you remember hearing anything on that side was yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear works overtime 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 will your clogged ear improve soon?

It probably won’t be a great shock to discover that the single biggest factor in projecting the duration of your blocked ear will be the cause of the blockage. You may need to seek out medical attention if your blockage isn’t the kind that clears itself up quickly.

As a rule of thumb, however, if your blockage lasts, you may want to seek out some help.

When Does a Blocked Ear Become a Concern?

You will most likely begin to think about the reason for your blockage. You’ll most likely begin to think about what you’ve been doing over the past couple of days: were you doing anything that could have resulted in water getting trapped in your ear, for example?

You might also examine your health. Are you dealing with the kind of discomfort and pain (or fever) that may be linked to an ear infection? You may want to schedule an appointment if that’s the case.

Those questions are truly just the beginning. There are plenty of potential causes for a clogged ear:

  • Growths: Your ears can have growths, bulges, and lumps which can even obstruct your ears.
  • Allergies: Swelling and fluid production can develop when the body’s immune system kicks in – in response to an allergic reaction.
  • Variations in air pressure: If the pressure in the air changes abruptly, your eustachian tube can fail to compensate which can cause temporary blockage.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can cause fluid to buildup in your ears because your ears, nose and throat are all connected (causing a clog).
  • Water stuck in the eustachian tube or ear canal: Water and sweat can get trapped in the little areas of your ear with surprising ease. (If you tend to sweat profusely, this can certainly end up temporarily clogging your ears).
  • Irreversible hearing loss: A clogged ear and some kinds of permanent hearing loss can feel surprisingly similar. You need to schedule an appointment if your “clogged ear” lasts longer than it should.
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can cause inflammation and fluid buildup that ultimately blocks your ears.
  • Earwax Build-up: Earwax can lead to blockages if it’s not properly draining or if it becomes compressed, hardening in place.

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

Your ears will most likely go back to normal after a day if the blockage is caused by air pressure. If an ear infection is to blame for your clogged ears, you may have to wait until your body gets rid of the virus or bacteria at work (and, if it’s the latter, antibiotics can be very helpful). This may take up to a couple of weeks. Sinus infections sometimes last even longer.

A bit of patience will be needed before your ears return to normal (though that may seem counterintuitive), and you need to be able to adjust your expectations according to your actual circumstances.

Not doing anything to aggravate the situation is your most important first step. 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. This can be a particularly dangerous strategy (cotton swabs have been known to cause all sorts of problems and difficulties, from infection to loss of hearing). You will probably make the situation worse if you use cotton swabs.

If Your Ear is Still Clogged…it Could be Hearing Loss

So, if your ear is still blocked on day two and you don’t have any really good ideas as to what’s causing it, you may be justifiably impatient. A day is normally enough time for your body to eliminate any blockage. But the basic rule of thumb is that if things last for more than a week or so, it might be a good idea to come in for a consultation. And treat any sudden hearing loss as an emergency.

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 cause a whole host of other health problems.

Being careful not to worsen the issue will normally permit the body to take care of the matter on its own. But treatment could be necessary when those natural means do not succeed. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this might take a varying amount of time.

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