Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

You’re on 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 works overtime to pick up the slack. You thought it might up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not happening. So will your clogged ear clear up soon?

It most likely won’t be a huge shock to find out that the single biggest factor in projecting the duration of your clogged ear will be the cause of the blockage. You could need to get medical attention if your blockage is not the kind that clears itself up quickly.

As a general rule, though, if your blockage persists much longer than a week, you might want to get some help.

When Should I Be Concerned About a Blocked Ear?

You will probably start contemplating the reason for your blockage after around a couple of days. You’ll probably begin to think about your activities for the last couple of days: were you involved in anything that could have led to water getting trapped in your ear, for instance?

You may also consider your health. Do have any symptoms of an ear infection? You may want to schedule an appointment if that’s the case.

Those questions are truly just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of possible causes for a clogged ear:

  • Earwax Build-up: If earwax gets compressed or is not properly draining it can result in blockages..
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can bring about fluid buildup and inflammation that ultimately obstructs your ears.
  • Growths: Your ears can have growths, bulges, and lumps which can even block your ears.
  • Permanent loss of hearing: Some kinds of hearing loss feel a lot like a blocked ear. If your “blocked ear” is persisting longer than it should, you need to have it checked out.
  • Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, throat, and ears are all connected, a sinus infection can produce excess fluids to become lodged in your ears (causing a clog).
  • Water stuck in the eustachian tube or ear canal: The little areas in the ear are surprisingly efficient at capturing water and sweat. (If you tend to sweat copiously, this can definitely end up blocking your ears temporarily).
  • Allergies: Certain pollen allergies can spark the body’s immune system reaction, which will then cause swelling and fluid.
  • Variations in air pressure: On occasion, your Eustachian tube can fail to adjust properly to variations in air pressure, causing the feeling of a short-term blockage in one or both ears.

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

Your ears will probably return 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 caused by 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. Sinus infections sometimes stick around even longer.

Bringing your ears back to normal as rapidly as you can, then, will usually involve some patience (though that might feel counterintuitive), and you need to be able to modify your expectations according to your actual circumstances.

Not doing anything to worsen the situation is your most important first step. When you first begin to feel like your ears are blocked, it might be tempting to attempt to use cotton swabs to clear them out. All sorts of problems, from ear infections to hearing loss, can be caused by cotton swabs so this can be a particularly dangerous approach. You will most likely make the situation worse if you use cotton swabs.

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

So, if your ear remains blocked after two days and you don’t have any really great ideas as to what’s causing it, you might be understandably impatient. A few days is usually enough time for your body to clear up any blockage. But it may be, as a basic rule of thumb, a prudent decision to come see us if your blockage persists for more than a week.

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

Doing no additional damage first will allow your body an opportunity to heal and clean that blockage away naturally. But when that fails, intervention may be necessary. How long that takes will vary depending on the underlying cause of your clogged ears.

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