Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now day two. There’s still total obstruction in your right ear. The last time you were able to hear anything in that direction was yesterday morning. Your left ear is trying to compensate, naturally, but only hearing from a single direction is leaving you off-balance. It didn’t improve after a night’s sleep as you were hoping it would. So will your clogged ear clear up soon?

It most likely won’t be a great shock to find out that the number one variable in projecting the duration of your clogged ear is the cause of the obstruction. Some blockages recede on their own and rather quickly at that; others might persist and require medical treatment.

You shouldn’t let your blockage linger without getting it checked, and you should always treat sudden hearing loss as an emergency.

When Does a Blocked Ear Become a Worry?

You will probably start contemplating the cause of your blockage. Perhaps you’ll examine your activities from the past two or three days: were you doing anything that could have resulted in water getting trapped in your ear, for example?

You may also examine your health. Are you suffering from the kind of pain or discomfort (or fever) that may be associated with an ear infection? If that’s the scenario, you might want to make an appointment.

This line of questioning is only a starting point. There are plenty of possible causes for a blocked ear:

  • Water stuck in the ear canal or eustachian tube: Water and sweat can become trapped in the tiny places inside your ear with alarming ease. (If you often sweat copiously, this can definitely end up temporarily blocking your ears).
  • Earwax accumulation: Earwax can lead to blockages if it’s not effectively draining or if it becomes compressed, hardening in place.
  • Allergies: Some pollen allergies can trigger the body’s immune system reaction, which in turn produces swelling and fluid.
  • Irreversible hearing loss: A clogged ear and some types of irreversible hearing loss can feel remarkably similar. If your “blocked ear” is persisting longer than it should, you need to get it examined.
  • Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, ears and throat are all interconnected, a sinus infection can cause excess fluids to become lodged in your ears (causing a clog).
  • Variations in air pressure: If the pressure in the air changes abruptly, your eustachian tube can fail to compensate which can temporarily cause obstruction.
  • Growths: Your ears can get growths, lumps, and bulges which can even block your ears.
  • Ear Infection: Your ear can eventually become blocked by fluid buildup or inflammation from an ear infection.

The Fastest Way to Get Your Ears Back to Normal

Your ears will most likely return to normal if air pressure is causing your blockage. If an ear infection is to blame for your blocked ears, you might have to wait until your body fights off the virus or bacteria at work (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.

A bit of patience will be required before your ears return to normal (though that might feel counterintuitive), and you need to be able to change your expectations according to your actual situation.

Your first and most important task is to not make the situation worse. When your ears start to feel blocked, you might be inclined to take out the old cotton swab and start trying to physically clean things out. This can be a particularly dangerous strategy (cotton swabs have been known to cause all sorts of issues and complications, from infection to loss of hearing). If you use a cotton swab, you’re probably going to make the situation worse.

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

So, if your ear remains clogged on day two and you don’t have any really good ideas as to what’s causing it, you might be reasonably impatient. In almost all instances, your blockage will take care of itself. But the basic rule of thumb is that if things persist for more than a week or so, it might be a good idea to come in for a consultation.

Early signs of hearing loss can also feel like blocked ears. And you shouldn’t neglect hearing loss because, as you’ve most likely read in our other posts, it can cause a whole host of other health concerns.

Being cautious not to worsen the problem will usually allow the body to clear up the matter on its own. But when that fails, treatment might be required. How long that takes will fluctuate depending on the underlying cause of your blocked ears.

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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.