Why Are my Ears Clogged?

Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now day two. Your right ear is still totally clogged. The last time you remember hearing anything in that direction was yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear does double duty to pick up the slack. It didn’t clear up after a night’s sleep as you were hoping it would. So will your blocked ear improve soon?

It most likely won’t be a huge shock to discover that the number one variable in predicting the duration of your blocked ear is the cause of the blockage. Some blockages recede on their own and rather quickly at that; others might persist and call for medical intervention.

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

When Does a Blocked Ear Become a Worry?

If you’re on day two of a clogged ear, you may start thinking about potential causes. Maybe you’ll examine your behavior from the last couple of days: for example, did you somehow get water in your ear?

What about your state of health? Are you suffering from the sort of discomfort and pain (or fever) that may be linked to an ear infection? If that’s the scenario, you may want to schedule an appointment.

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

  • Air pressure variations: Occasionally, your Eustachian tube can fail to properly adjust to variations in air pressure, creating the feeling of a short-term blockage in your ear or ears.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can produce fluid buildup in your ears because your ears, nose and throat are all interconnected (causing a clog).
  • Earwax accumulation: If earwax gets compacted or is not properly draining it can cause blockages..
  • Permanent loss of hearing: A blocked ear and some types of permanent hearing loss can feel remarkably similar. If your “blocked ear” is lasting longer than it should, you need to have it checked out.
  • Allergies: Fluid production and swelling can manifest when the body’s immune system goes to work – as a reaction to an allergic reaction.
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can bring about fluid buildup and inflammation that eventually obstructs your ears.
  • The ear canal or eustachian tube gets water stuck in it: Water and sweat can become trapped in the tiny places inside your ear with surprising ease. (Short-term blockage can definitely develop if you sweat heavily).
  • Growths: Your ears can have growths, lumps, and bulges which can even block your ears.

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

Your ears will probably go back to normal after a couple of days if the blockage is caused by air pressure. If an ear infection is behind your clogged ears, you might have to wait until your body fights off the virus or bacteria at work (and, if it’s the latter, antibiotics can really help). This may take up to a couple of weeks. You may have to wait even longer than that if you’re suffering from a sinus infection.

Getting your ears back to normal as quickly as possible, then, will often involve a bit of patience (counterintuitive though it may be), and your expectations should be, well, adjustable.

Not doing anything to exacerbate the situation is your most important first step. When your ears start to feel clogged, you may be tempted to take out the old cotton swab and attempt to manually clear things out. This can be a very hazardous strategy (cotton swabs have been known to cause all sorts of issues and difficulties, from infection to hearing loss). You will most likely worsen the situation if you use cotton swabs.

If Your Ear is Still Blocked After a Week…it May be 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 may be justifiably impatient. In nearly all instances, your blockage will take care of itself after a few days. But it might be, as a general rule of thumb, a prudent decision to come see us if your blockage persists for more than a week.

That sensation of feeling like your ears are blocked can also be an indication of hearing loss. And as you most likely understand from our other posts, untreated hearing loss can result in other health issues, especially over time.

Being careful not to worsen the problem will normally permit the body to take care of the matter on its own. But treatment could be needed when those natural means fail. How long that takes will fluctuate depending on the underlying cause of your clogged ears.

Questions? Talk To Us.