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Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now day two. Your right ear is still completely blocked. The last time you remember hearing anything on that side was yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear does double duty to compensate. You thought it might 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 big surprise to learn that the single biggest variable in predicting the duration of your blocked ear is the cause of the obstruction. You may need to seek out medical attention if your blockage isn’t the type that clears itself up quickly.

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

When Does a Blocked Ear Become a Concern?

If you’re on day two of a clogged ear, you might start thinking about possible causes. You’ll probably start thinking about your activities over the last couple of days: were you doing anything that could have resulted in water getting trapped in your ear, for example?

How about your state of health? Are you dealing with the kind of discomfort and pain (or fever) that may be connected to an ear infection? You might want to make an appointment if that’s the case.

This line of questioning is merely a starting point. A clogged ear could have multiple potential causes:

  • Allergies: Various pollen allergies can spark the body’s immune system response, which will then produces fluid and swelling.
  • Ear Infection: Your ear can eventually become blocked by fluid accumulation or inflammation due to an ear infection.
  • Growths: Some kinds of growths, bulges, and lumps can result in a blocked feeling in your ears (and even impact your hearing).
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can produce fluid accumulate in your ears because your ears, throat, and nose are all connected (causing a clog).
  • Permanent hearing impairment: A blocked ear and some forms of irreversible hearing loss can feel remarkably similar. If your “blocked ear” is lasting longer than it should, you need to have it checked out.
  • Changes in air pressure: Occasionally, 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.
  • Water trapped in the eustachian tube or ear canal: Sweat and water can get stuck in the little places inside your ear with surprising ease. (If you often sweat profusely, this can definitely end up blocking your ears temporarily).
  • Earwax accumulation: If earwax gets compacted or is not thoroughly draining it can cause blockages..

The Quickest Way to Get Your Ears Back to Normal

So, if air pressure is the cause, your ears will usually get back to normal within a day or two. You might have to wait for your immune system to start working if your blockage is caused by an ear infection (you might need an antibiotic to get faster relief). And that could take up to a week or two. Sinus infections have been known to stick around even longer.

Some patience will be required before your ears get back to normal (counterintuitive though it may be), and your expectations should be, well, variable.

The number one most important job is to not cause the situation to get worse. When your ears start feeling clogged, you might be inclined to take out the old cotton swab and try to physically clear things out. All sorts of problems, from ear infections to loss of hearing, can be caused by cotton swabs so this can be an especially dangerous strategy. You will most likely make the situation worse if you use cotton swabs.

If Your Ear is Still Clogged 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 might be reasonably impatient. In almost all cases, your blockage will clear itself up after a few days. But the general rule of thumb is that if things persist for more than a week or so, it might be a good decision to come in for a consultation.

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 lead to other health concerns, especially over time.

Being cautious not to worsen the issue will normally allow the body to take care of the matter on its own. But when that fails, treatment might be required. How long that takes will vary depending on the root cause of your clogged ears.

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