Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

You’re on day two. Your right ear is still completely clogged. The last time you remember hearing anything in that direction was yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear does double duty to compensate. You were hoping it would have cleared up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not the case. So, how long will your blocked ear last?

It most likely won’t be a big surprise to learn that the single biggest variable in projecting the duration of your clogged ear will be the cause of the blockage. Some blockages go away on their own and rather quickly at that; others may persist and require medical intervention.

You shouldn’t let your blockage linger for more than a week, as a general rule, without getting it examined.

When Does a Clogged Ear Become a Concern?

If you’re on the second day of a blocked ear, you may start thinking about possible causes. Maybe you’ll examine your behavior from the previous two or three days: for instance, did you get water in your ear somehow?

You may also examine your health. Are you suffering from any symptoms of an ear infection? You may want to make an appointment if that’s the case.

Those questions are truly just the beginning. There are plenty of potential reasons for a blocked ear:

  • Changes in air pressure: Once in a while, your Eustachian tube can fail to adjust properly to variations in air pressure, causing the feeling of a temporary blockage in your ear or ears.
  • Allergies: Various pollen allergies can spark the body’s immune system reaction, which will then produces fluid and swelling.
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can bring about fluid buildup and inflammation that eventually obstructs your ears.
  • Earwax accumulation: If earwax gets compressed or is not properly draining it can result in blockages..
  • Water stuck in the eustachian tube or ear canal: The little places inside the ear are surprisingly efficient at capturing water and sweat. (Temporary blockage can definitely develop if you sweat profusely).
  • Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, ears and throat are all connected, a sinus infection can create excess fluids to become stuck in your ears (causing a clog).
  • Irreversible hearing loss: A blocked ear and some forms of permanent hearing loss can feel remarkably similar. If your “clogged ear” is persisting longer than it should, you need to have it examined.
  • Growths: Certain types of growths, bulges, and lumps can result in a blocked feeling in your ears (and even interfere with your hearing).

How to Get Your Ears Back to Normal as Fast as You Can

So, if air pressure is the culprit, your ears will usually get back to normal within a day or two. You might need 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 really help). And that might take as much as a week or two. You may have to wait even longer than that if you’re suffering from a sinus infection.

Some patience will be needed before your ears return to normal (though that may seem counterintuitive), and your expectations should be, well, variable.

Not doing anything to exacerbate the situation is your most important first step. When your ears begin feeling blocked, you might be tempted to pull out the old cotton swab and start trying to manually clear your ears out. This can be a particularly hazardous strategy (cotton swabs have been known to cause all sorts of problems and complications, from infection to loss of hearing). You will probably make the situation worse if you use cotton swabs.

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

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

Early indications of hearing loss can also feel like blocked ears. And as you most likely understand from our other posts, untreated hearing loss can cause other health problems, especially over time.

Being careful not to worsen the issue will usually permit the body to clear up the matter on its own. But when that fails, treatment might be required. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this could take a varying amount of time.

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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.

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