You’re on day two. There’s still complete obstruction in your right ear. 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 compensate. It didn’t clear up after a night’s sleep as you hoped it would. So, how long will your blocked ear last?
It probably won’t be a huge shock to find out that the single biggest factor in projecting the duration of your clogged ear is the cause of the obstruction. You may 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 may want to seek out some help.
When Does a Clogged Ear Become a Worry?
You will probably begin to think about the reason for your blockage after around two days. You’ll most likely begin to think about your activities over the past couple of days: were you involved in anything that could have led to water getting trapped in your ear, for example?
You may also consider your health. Are you suffering from any symptoms of an ear infection? If that’s the case, you might want to schedule an appointment.
Those questions are actually just the tip of the iceberg. A blocked ear could have multiple possible causes:
- Irreversible hearing impairment: Some kinds of hearing loss feel a lot like a blocked ear. If your “blocked ear” is lasting longer than it should, you need to have it examined.
- Water trapped in the ear canal or eustachian tube: The little areas in the ear are surprisingly good at capturing sweat and water. (If you tend to sweat copiously, this can definitely end up temporarily blocking your ears).
- Allergies: Swelling and fluid production can manifest when the body’s immune system kicks in – in response to an allergic reaction.
- Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, throat, and ears are all connected, a sinus infection can create excess fluids to become lodged in your ears (causing a clog).
- Growths: Your ears can have growths, bulges, and lumps which can even block your ears.
- Earwax accumulation: If earwax becomes compacted or is not thoroughly draining it can result in blockages..
- Ear Infection: Your ear can ultimately become blocked by fluid buildup or inflammation due to an ear infection.
- Changes in air pressure: On occasion, your Eustachian tube can fail to properly adjust to changes in air pressure, causing the feeling of a temporary blockage in one or both ears.
The Fastest Way to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal
Your ears will probably return to normal after a couple of days 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 gets rid of the virus or bacteria at work (and, if it’s the latter, antibiotics can be very helpful). This may take up to a couple of weeks. Sinus infections sometimes last even longer.
Bringing your ears back to normal as quickly as possible, then, will usually involve some patience (counterintuitive though it may be), and you should be able to adjust your expectations based on your exact situation.
Your first and most important job is to not make the situation worse. When you first start to feel like your ears are plugged, it might be tempting to attempt to use cotton swabs to clean them out. All kinds of problems, from ear infections to hearing loss, can be caused by cotton swabs so this can be an extremely dangerous approach. You will probably make the situation worse if you use cotton swabs.
If Your Ear is Still Clogged After a Week…it Could be Hearing Loss
So you could be getting a little antsy if a couple of days pass and you still have no idea what might be causing your blockage. In almost all cases, your blockage will take care of itself after a few days. 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.
That feeling of blocked ears can also be a sign of hearing loss. And as you most likely know from our other posts, neglected hearing loss can cause other health issues, especially over time.
Being cautious not to worsen the issue will usually permit the body to take care of the situation on its own. But treatment might be necessary when those natural means do not succeed. How long that takes will fluctuate depending on the base cause of your clogged ears.