What is That Blocking my Ears?

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Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now been two days. Your right ear is still totally blocked. You haven’t been able to hear anything in that direction since yesterday morning. Your left ear is picking up the slack, of course, but only being able to hear from a single direction leaves you off-balance. You thought it might up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not the case. So, how long will your ear remain blocked?

It probably won’t be a great surprise to learn that the single biggest variable in projecting the duration of your blocked ear is the cause of the obstruction. Some blockages subside by themselves and somewhat quickly at that; others might linger and require medical intervention.

You shouldn’t allow your blockage to linger for longer than a week, as a rule of thumb, without getting it checked.

When Does a Clogged Ear Become a Worry?

You will probably begin to think about the cause of your blockage after around a couple of days. Perhaps you’ll examine your behavior from the last two or three days: for example, did you get water in your ear somehow?

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

Those questions are truly just the beginning. A clogged ear could have numerous potential causes:

  • Earwax Build-up: If earwax gets compacted or is not properly draining it can result in blockages..
  • Allergies: Fluid production and swelling can occur when the body’s immune system kicks in – as a reaction to an allergic reaction.
  • Ear Infection: Your ear can ultimately become obstructed by fluid accumulation or inflammation due to an ear infection.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can produce fluid accumulate in your ears because your ears, throat, and nose are all interconnected (causing a clog).
  • Changes in air pressure: If the pressure in the air changes all of a sudden, your eustachian tube can fail to compensate which can cause temporary obstruction.
  • Growths: Certain kinds of growths, bulges, and lumps can cause a clogged feeling in your ears (and even obstruct your hearing).
  • Water trapped in the eustachian tube or ear canal: The little areas in the ear are surprisingly good at trapping water and sweat. (If you tend to sweat profusely, this can certainly end up clogging your ears temporarily).
  • Irreversible hearing loss: A blocked ear and some kinds of permanent hearing loss can feel remarkably similar. If your “blocked ear” is lasting longer than it should, you need to have it examined.

How to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal as Quickly as You Can

So, if air pressure is the culprit, your ears will normally return to normal within a day or two. You might need to wait for your immune system to start working if your blockage is due to an ear infection (you may need an antibiotic to get faster relief). This could take up to a couple of weeks. Sinus infections sometimes stick around even longer.

Getting your ears back to normal as rapidly as you can, then, will usually involve a bit of patience (counterintuitive though it might be), and you need to be able to change your expectations according to your actual circumstances.

Not doing anything to aggravate the situation is the first and most important step. When you first start to feel like your ears are blocked, it might be tempting to try and use cotton swabs to clear them out. This can be an especially hazardous strategy (cotton swabs have been the cause of all kinds of problems and complications, from infection to hearing loss). If you use a cotton swab, you’re probably going to make the situation worse.

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

So you could be getting a bit antsy if a couple of days pass and you still have no idea what could be causing your blockage. In nearly all instances, your blockage will clear itself up after a few days. But the basic rule of thumb is that if things last for more than a week or so, it might be a smart idea to come in for a consultation.

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

Being careful not to worsen the issue will usually allow the body to clear up the situation on its own. But intervention may be required when those natural means fail. How long that takes will fluctuate depending on the base 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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