Hearing Associates of Libertyville, IL

Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now been a couple of days. Your right ear is still completely blocked. You haven’t been able to hear a thing in that direction since yesterday morning. Your left ear is picking up the slack, naturally, but only being able to hear from a single direction leaves you feeling off-balance. It didn’t clear up after a night’s sleep as you were hoping it would. So will your clogged ear clear up soon?

Exactly how long your blockage will persist depends, not unexpectedly, on what the cause of the blockage is. You might need to get medical attention if your blockage is not the type that clears itself up quickly.

As a general rule, however, if your blockage lasts much longer than one week, you may want to get some help.

When Should I Worry About a Blocked Ear?

You will most likely begin to think about the cause of your blockage after about a couple of days. You’ll probably begin to think about your activities for the past couple of days: for example, did you get water in your ear somehow?

You may also consider your health. Do have any symptoms of an ear infection? If that’s the scenario, you might want to make an appointment.

Those questions are truly just the tip of the iceberg. A blocked ear could have multiple potential causes:

  • The eustachian tube or ear canal gets water stuck in it: Sweat and water can become stuck in the little areas of your ear with surprising ease. (Temporary blockage can certainly occur if you sweat profusely).
  • Permanent hearing impairment: A clogged ear and some forms of irreversible hearing loss can feel remarkably similar. If your “clogged ear” is lasting 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 cause excess fluids to become lodged in your ears (causing a clog).
  • Allergies: Swelling and fluid production can develop when the body’s immune system kicks in – as a reaction to an allergic reaction.
  • Growths: Your ears can have growths, bulges, and lumps which can even block your ears.
  • Air pressure changes: If the pressure in the air changes suddenly, your eustachian tube can fail to compensate which can temporarily cause blockage.
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can bring about fluid buildup and inflammation that eventually blocks your ears.
  • Accumulation of earwax: If earwax becomes compacted or is not properly draining it can result in blockages..

The Fastest Way to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal

Your ears will probably return to normal after a couple of days if the blockage is caused by air pressure. You may need to wait for your immune system to start working if your blockage is due to an ear infection (you might need an antibiotic to get faster relief). And that may take up to a week or two. Sinus infections have been known to last even longer.

Getting your ears back to normal as quickly as you can, then, will often involve some patience (though that might feel counterintuitive), and you should be able to adjust your expectations according to your actual situation.

Not doing anything to worsen the situation is your most important first step. When your ears start feeling blocked, you might be inclined to pull out the old cotton swab and start trying to manually clean your ears out. All sorts of problems, from ear infections to loss of hearing, can be caused by cotton swabs so this can be a particularly dangerous strategy. You will probably worsen the situation if you use cotton swabs.

If Your Ear is Still Clogged After a Week…it May be Hearing Loss

So you might be getting a bit antsy if a couple of days pass and you still have no clue what could be causing your blockage. A few days is normally 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 good choice to come see us.

That feeling of clogged ears can also be a sign of hearing loss. And as you most likely know from our other posts, untreated hearing loss can cause other health issues, particularly over time.

Doing no additional damage first will give your body an opportunity to mend and clean that blockage away naturally. But when that fails, treatment could be necessary. How long that takes will vary depending on the root cause of your clogged ears.

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