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Hearing Aids by Tricia Leagjeld - Redmond, OR

Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

You’re on day two. There’s still complete blockage in your right ear. You haven’t been able to hear anything on that side since yesterday morning. Your left ear is picking up the slack, naturally, but only hearing from a single direction is leaving you off-balance. You were hoping it would have cleared up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not happening. So will your clogged ear improve soon?

It probably won’t be a big shock to find out that the number one variable in projecting the duration of your blocked ear is the cause of the blockage. You might need to seek out medical attention if your blockage isn’t the kind that clears itself up quickly.

You shouldn’t let your blockage linger, as a rule of thumb, without having it checked.

When Should I Worry About a Clogged Ear?

You will most likely begin to think about the cause of your blockage after a day. Perhaps you’ll examine your activities from the last couple of days: for instance, did you get water in your ear somehow?

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

Those questions are actually just the beginning. A blocked ear could have multiple potential causes:

  • Growths: Your ears can have growths, lumps, and bulges which can even obstruct your ears.
  • Permanent hearing loss: A blocked ear and some types of permanent hearing loss can feel remarkably similar. You should schedule an appointment if your “clogged ear” persists longer than it should.
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can bring about inflammation and fluid buildup that ultimately blocks your ears.
  • Changes in air pressure: Once in a while, your Eustachian tube can fail to properly adjust to variations in air pressure, causing the feeling of a short-term blockage in one or both ears.
  • The ear canal or eustachian tube gets water trapped in it: Water and sweat can become stuck in the little places inside your ear with surprising ease. (If you tend to sweat profusely, this can definitely end up blocking your ears temporarily).
  • Earwax Build-up: Earwax can cause blockages if it’s not effectively draining or if it becomes compacted, hardening in place.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can cause fluid to accumulate in your ears because your ears, throat, and nose are all interconnected (causing a clog).
  • Allergies: Certain pollen allergies can trigger the body’s immune system response, which will then cause fluid and swelling.

How to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal as Quickly as Possible

So, if air pressure is the culprit, your ears will normally go back to normal in a day or two. If an ear infection is to blame for your clogged ears, you may have to wait until your body fights off the virus or bacteria at work (you might need an antibiotic to get faster relief). And that may 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.

A bit of patience will be necessary before your ears return to normal (counterintuitive though it may be), and you should be able to adjust your expectations based on your exact circumstances.

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

If Your Ear is Still Blocked…it Might be Hearing Loss

So you might be getting a little antsy if you still have no idea what could be the cause of your blockage. But it may be, as a general rule of thumb, a good decision to come see us if your blockage persists. Treat any sudden hearing loss as an emergency and seek medical attention.

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

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