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Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now day two. There’s still complete blockage in your right ear. You haven’t been able to hear anything on that side since 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 will your blocked ear clear up soon?

It most likely won’t be a big shock to discover that the number one variable in projecting the duration of your blocked ear is the cause of the blockage. Some blockages go away on their own and somewhat quickly at that; others might persist and call for medical treatment.

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

When Does a Clogged Ear Become a Concern?

If you’re on the second day of a clogged ear, you might begin to think about potential causes. Perhaps you’ll think about your behavior from the past couple of days: were you doing anything that could have resulted in water getting stuck in your ear, for instance?

How about the condition of your health? Are you experiencing the kind of pain or discomfort (or fever) that may be linked to an ear infection? If that’s the scenario, you might want to make an appointment.

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

  • Allergies: Certain pollen allergies can spark the body’s immune system reaction, which in turn produces swelling and fluid.
  • Air pressure variations: Occasionally, your Eustachian tube can fail to adjust properly to variations in air pressure, causing the feeling of a temporary blockage in one or both ears.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can cause fluid to accumulate in your ears because your ears, nose and throat are all interconnected (causing a clog).
  • The eustachian tube or ear canal gets water stuck in it: The tiny places inside the ear are alarmingly good at capturing water and sweat. (If you often sweat profusely, this can certainly end up temporarily clogging your ears).
  • Growths: Your ears can get growths, bulges, and lumps which can even obstruct your ears.
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can bring about fluid buildup and inflammation that ultimately blocks your ears.
  • Irreversible hearing loss: Some forms of hearing loss feel a lot like a blocked ear. If your “clogged ear” is lasting longer than it should, you need to have it examined.
  • Accumulation of earwax: If earwax becomes compacted or is not properly draining it can cause blockages..

How to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal as Quickly as Possible

So, if air pressure is the culprit, your ears will usually go back to normal in a day or two. 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). This could take up to a couple of weeks. 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 might feel counterintuitive), and your expectations should be, well, variable.

Not doing anything to aggravate the situation is the first and most important step. When your ears start to feel clogged, you may be inclined to take out the old cotton swab and start trying to manually clear things out. All kinds 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 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 idea what might be the cause of your blockage. A few days is normally enough time for your body to clear up any blockage. But the general rule of thumb is that if things last for more than a week or so, it may be a smart decision to come in for a consultation.

Early signs of hearing loss can also feel like clogged ears. And you don’t want to ignore hearing loss because, as you’ve probably read in our other posts, it can cause a whole range of other health concerns.

Doing no additional harm first will give your body a chance to mend and clean that blockage away naturally. But intervention may be required when those natural means do not succeed. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this may take a varying amount of time.

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