My Ears Are Blocked – What is That?

Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now been two days. Your right ear is still completely blocked. You haven’t been able to hear a thing in that direction since 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 will your clogged ear clear up soon?

Precisely how long your blockage will last depends, not unexpectedly, on what the cause of the blockage is. Some blockages go away on their own and rather quickly at that; others might persist and call for medical intervention.

As a general rule, however, if your blockage persists much longer than one 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 about two days. Maybe you’ll examine your activities from the previous couple of days: for instance, did you get water in your ear somehow?

How about the condition of 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. There are plenty of possible reasons for a blocked ear:

  • Permanent hearing impairment: Some forms of hearing loss feel a lot like a clogged ear. If your “blocked ear” is lasting longer than it should, you need to get it examined.
  • Air pressure variations: Occasionally, your Eustachian tube can fail to adjust properly to variations in air pressure, creating the feeling of a short-term blockage in your ear or ears.
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can bring about fluid buildup and inflammation that eventually obstructs your ears.
  • Earwax Build-up: If earwax becomes compressed or is not thoroughly draining it can result in blockages..
  • Allergies: Various pollen allergies can spark the body’s immune system reaction, which in turn cause fluid and swelling.
  • Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, throat, and ears are all connected, a sinus infection can produce excess fluids to become lodged in your ears (causing a clog).
  • The eustachian tube or ear canal gets water trapped in it: The tiny areas in the ear are surprisingly good at trapping water and sweat. (If you tend to sweat profusely, this can certainly end up temporarily clogging your ears).
  • Growths: Some types of growths, bulges, and lumps can cause a clogged feeling in your ears (and even interfere with your hearing).

The Fastest Way to Get Your Ears Back to Normal

So, if air pressure is the cause, your ears will usually return to normal in a day or two. If an ear infection is behind your blocked ears, you may 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). And that might take as much as a week or two. Sinus infections have been known to stick around even longer.

A bit of patience will be necessary before your ears return to normal (counterintuitive though it may be), and you need to be able to change your expectations according to your exact circumstances.

Not doing anything to aggravate the situation is the first and most important step. When your ears start to feel blocked, you might be tempted to pull out the old cotton swab and start trying to physically clear your ears out. All kinds of issues, from ear infections to hearing loss, can come from using cotton swabs so this can be a particularly dangerous strategy. You will most likely 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 go by and you still have no idea what could be causing your blockage. A few days is usually enough time for your body to get rid of any blockage. But the general 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.

Early signs of hearing loss can also feel like clogged ears. And you shouldn’t ignore hearing loss because, as you’ve probably read in our other posts, it can lead to a whole range of other health issues.

Doing no further harm first will allow your body a chance to mend and clean that blockage away naturally. But treatment may be needed when those natural means fail. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this may take a varying amount of time.

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.