What is That Blocking my Ears?

Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s been a couple of days. There’s still total blockage in your right ear. The last time you remember hearing anything in that direction was yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear works overtime to compensate. You were hoping it would have cleared up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not the case. So, how long will your ear remain clogged?

Precisely how long your blockage will persist depends, not unexpectedly, on what the cause of the blockage is. Some blockages go away on their own and rather quickly at that; others could persist and require medical treatment.

As a general rule, however, if your blockage persists for any longer than one week, you may want to get some help.

When Should I Worry About a Clogged Ear?

You will most likely start contemplating the reason for your blockage after around two days. Maybe you’ll think about your behavior from the previous two or three days: were you doing anything that might have led to water getting trapped in your ear, for instance?

How about your state of health? Are you suffering from any symptoms of an ear infection? You might want to make an appointment if that’s the case.

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

  • Air pressure changes: On occasion, your Eustachian tube can fail to adjust properly to variations in air pressure, causing the feeling of a short-term blockage in your ear or ears.
  • Ear Infection: Your ear can ultimately become blocked by fluid buildup or inflammation due to an ear infection.
  • Allergies: Various pollen allergies can spark the body’s immune system response, which in turn cause swelling and fluid.
  • Build-up of earwax: If earwax becomes compacted or is not thoroughly draining it can cause blockages..
  • The ear canal or eustachian tube gets water trapped in it: Water and sweat can become trapped in the little places inside your ear with alarming ease. (Temporary blockage can certainly develop if you sweat heavily).
  • Permanent loss of hearing: A blocked ear and some types of irreversible hearing loss can feel remarkably similar. You need to make an appointment if your “clogged ear” persists longer than it should.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can produce fluid buildup in your ears because your ears, nose and throat are all interconnected (causing a clog).
  • Growths: Your ears can get growths, bulges, and lumps which can even block your ears.

The Quickest Way to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal

Your ears will most likely go back to normal after a couple of days if air pressure is causing your blockage. You might have 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 be very helpful). And that might take as much as a week or two. You may have to wait even longer than that if you have a sinus infection.

Some patience will be necessary before your ears return to normal (though that may seem counterintuitive), and you should be able to change your expectations according to your exact situation.

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 try and use cotton swabs to clean them out. All sorts of issues, from ear infections to hearing loss, can come from using cotton swabs so this can be an extremely dangerous strategy. You will most likely worsen the situation if you use cotton swabs.

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

So, if your ear remains clogged after two days and you don’t have any really good clue as to what’s causing it, you may be justifiably impatient. In nearly all instances, your blockage will take care of itself after a few days. But it may be, as a basic rule of thumb, a good decision to come see us if your blockage lasts for more than a week.

Early signs of hearing loss can also feel like blocked ears. And as you most likely understand from our other posts, untreated hearing loss can result in other health problems, especially over time.

Doing no further harm first will give your body an opportunity to mend and clean that blockage away naturally. But when that fails, intervention may be required. How long that takes will vary depending on the underlying cause of your clogged 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.

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