Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now day two. Your right ear is still completely clogged. You haven’t been able to hear a thing on that side since yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear does double duty to compensate. You thought it might up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not the case. So will your blocked ear clear up soon?

Exactly how long your blockage will persist depends, not unexpectedly, on what the cause of the blockage is. Some blockages recede by themselves and fairly quickly at that; others may persist and require medical intervention.

You shouldn’t let your blockage linger for longer than one week, as a rule of thumb, without getting it examined.

When Should I Be Concerned About a Clogged Ear?

You will most likely start contemplating the cause of your blockage after around a couple of days. Maybe you’ll examine your activities from the previous two or three days: were you involved in anything that could have led to water getting trapped in your ear, for example?

What about your state of health? Are you suffering from any symptoms of an ear infection? You may want to make an appointment if that’s the situation.

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

  • Allergies: Various pollen allergies can trigger the body’s immune system reaction, which will then produces swelling and fluid.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can cause fluid to accumulate in your ears because your ears, throat, and nose are all interconnected (causing a clog).
  • Water trapped in the eustachian tube or ear canal: The tiny areas in the ear are alarmingly efficient at capturing water and sweat. (If you often sweat copiously, this can definitely end up temporarily clogging your ears).
  • Growths: Your ears can get growths, lumps, and bulges which can even obstruct your ears.
  • Earwax accumulation: Earwax can lead to blockages if it’s not effectively draining or if it becomes compacted, hardening in place.
  • Changes in air pressure: Sometimes, your Eustachian tube can fail to adjust properly to changes in air pressure, causing the feeling of a temporary blockage in one or both ears.
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can cause inflammation and fluid buildup that eventually blocks your ears.
  • Irreversible loss of hearing: Some forms 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 checked out.

The Quickest Way to Get Your Ears Back to Normal

So, if air pressure is the culprit, your ears will normally get back to normal in 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). This may take up to a couple of weeks. You might have to wait even longer than that if you have a sinus infection.

Some patience will be required before your ears return to normal (though that may feel counterintuitive), and your expectations should be, well, adjustable.

Your first and most important job is to not make the situation worse. When your ears start feeling blocked, you may be tempted to pull out the old cotton swab and attempt to physically clear your ears out. This can be a very hazardous strategy (cotton swabs have been the cause of all kinds of issues and complications, from infection to hearing loss). If you use a cotton swab, you’re more likely to make things worse.

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

So, if your ear remains clogged on day two and you don’t have any really good clue as to what’s causing it, you might be understandably impatient. In almost all instances, your blockage will take care of itself after a few days. But the general rule of thumb is that if things last for more than a week or so, it might be a good choice to come see us.

That sensation of feeling like your ears are clogged can also be an indication of hearing loss. And as you probably know from our other posts, neglected hearing loss can result in other health issues, especially over time.

Being careful not to worsen the issue will usually permit the body to take care of the matter on its own. But when that fails, intervention might be necessary. How long that takes will vary depending on the root cause of your clogged ears.

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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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