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Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now day two. There’s still complete obstruction in your right ear. The last time you were able to hear anything on that side was yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear works overtime to compensate. It didn’t improve after a night’s sleep as you hoped it would. So will your blocked ear improve soon?

Exactly how long your blockage will last depends, not surprisingly, on what the cause of the blockage is. Some blockages subside by themselves and rather quickly at that; others might linger and call for medical intervention.

You shouldn’t let your blockage to linger for longer than one week, as a rule of thumb, without getting it checked.

When Does a Clogged Ear Become a Worry?

If you’re on day two of a clogged ear, you may begin to think about potential causes. You’ll probably begin to think about what you’ve been doing over the past couple of days: for instance, did you somehow get water in your ear?

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

Those questions are really just the beginning. A clogged ear could have multiple potential causes:

  • Irreversible 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.
  • Earwax accumulation: Earwax can lead to blockages if it’s not effectively draining or if it becomes compacted, hardening in place.
  • Ear Infection: Your ear can ultimately become blocked by fluid accumulation or inflammation due to an ear infection.
  • Allergies: Some pollen allergies can spark the body’s immune system response, which will then cause swelling and fluid.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can produce fluid buildup in your ears because your ears, throat, and nose are all connected (causing a clog).
  • Air pressure variations: Sometimes, your Eustachian tube can fail to adjust properly to changes in air pressure, creating the feeling of a temporary blockage in one or both ears.
  • The ear canal or eustachian tube gets water stuck in it: The tiny areas in the ear are surprisingly good at trapping sweat and water. (Temporary blockage can certainly occur if you sweat profusely).
  • Growths: Your ears can have growths, lumps, and bulges which can even obstruct your ears.

How to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal as Quickly as You Can

Your ears will most likely go back to normal after a couple of days if the blockage is caused by air pressure. If an ear infection is behind your clogged ears, you may have to wait until your body fights off the virus or bacteria at work (you might need an antibiotic to get faster relief). And that may take as much as a week or two. You may have to wait even longer than that if you have a sinus infection.

Getting your ears back to normal as rapidly as you can, then, will normally involve a bit of patience (though that might feel counterintuitive), and your expectations should be, well, adjustable.

The number one most important job is to not make the situation worse. When you first begin to feel like your ears are blocked, it might be tempting to try and use cotton swabs to clear them out. All sorts of problems, from ear infections to loss of hearing, can be caused by cotton swabs so this can be an extremely dangerous approach. You will probably 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 great clue as to what’s causing it, you might be reasonably impatient. In almost all instances, 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 may be a wise idea to come in for a consultation.

That feeling of clogged ears can also be an indication of hearing loss. And you don’t want to ignore hearing loss because, as you’ve probably read in our other posts, it can cause a whole host of other health problems.

Being cautious not to worsen the issue will normally allow the body to clear up the matter on its own. But when that fails, intervention may be necessary. How long that takes will fluctuate depending on the underlying cause of your clogged ears.

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