You’re on day two. Your right ear is still completely blocked. The last time you were able to hear anything in that direction was yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear works overtime to compensate. You thought it might up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not the case. So, how long will your blocked ear last?
Precisely how long your blockage will persist depends, not unexpectedly, on what the cause of the blockage is. Some blockages subside on their own and rather quickly at that; others might linger and call for medical intervention.
You shouldn’t allow your blockage to linger for longer than a week, as a rule of thumb, without having it examined.
When Does a Blocked Ear Become a Worry?
You will probably start contemplating the reason for your blockage after around two days. Maybe you’ll examine your activities from the past couple of days: for example, did you get water in your ear somehow?
You may also think about your health. Are you suffering from any symptoms of an ear infection? If that’s the scenario, you may want to schedule an appointment.
Those questions are really just the tip of the iceberg. A clogged ear could have multiple possible causes:
- Air pressure variations: If the pressure in the air changes suddenly, your eustachian tube can fail to adjust which can cause temporary obstruction.
- Ear Infection: Your ear can eventually become clogged by fluid buildup or inflammation due to an ear infection.
- Earwax accumulation: If earwax becomes compacted or is not properly draining it can result in blockages..
- Permanent hearing impairment: A clogged ear and some kinds of irreversible hearing loss can feel surprisingly similar. You need to make an appointment if your “clogged ear” lasts longer than it should.
- Growths: Your ears can get growths, lumps, and bulges which can even block your ears.
- Allergies: Certain pollen allergies can trigger the body’s immune system reaction, which in turn produces fluid and swelling.
- Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, throat, and ears are all interconnected, a sinus infection can produce excess fluids to become lodged in your ears (causing a clog).
- The ear canal or eustachian tube gets water trapped in it: The tiny places inside the ear are alarmingly good at trapping sweat and water. (If you often sweat copiously, this can definitely end up clogging your ears temporarily).
How to Get Your Ears Back to Normal as Quickly as You Can
Your ears will probably return to normal after a couple of days if air pressure is causing your blockage. You might need to wait for your immune system to kick in if your blockage is due to an ear infection (you may need an antibiotic to get faster relief). This may take up to a couple of weeks. You may have to wait even longer than that if you’re suffering from a sinus infection.
Bringing your ears back to normal as quickly as you can, then, will often involve some patience (though that might seem counterintuitive), and your expectations should be, well, adjustable.
Not doing anything to aggravate the situation is the first and most important step. When you first begin to feel like your ears are clogged, it may be tempting to try and use cotton swabs to clear them out. All kinds of problems, from ear infections to hearing loss, can be caused by cotton swabs so this can be an especially dangerous strategy. If you use a cotton swab, you’re more likely to make things worse.
It’s Possible That Your “Blockage” is Hearing Loss
So you may be getting a bit antsy if a couple of days pass and you still have no idea what might be causing your blockage. A few days is usually enough time for your body to eliminate any blockage. But the basic rule of thumb is that if things last for more than a week or so, it may be a smart decision to come see us.
That sensation of feeling like your ears are blocked can also be an indication of hearing loss. And as you most likely know from our other posts, neglected hearing loss can result in other health issues, particularly over time.
Being careful not to worsen the issue will usually allow the body to clear up the matter on its own. But when that fails, intervention might be necessary. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this might take a varying amount of time.