Why Are my Ears Blocked?

Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s now been a day. There’s still complete blockage in your right ear. The last time you remember hearing anything in that direction was yesterday morning. Your left ear is picking up the slack, of course, but only hearing from one direction leaves you off-balance. You thought it might up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not the case. So will your blocked ear improve soon?

Exactly how long your blockage will last depends, not unexpectedly, on what the cause of the blockage is. Some blockages go away by themselves and somewhat quickly at that; others could persist and call for medical intervention.

You shouldn’t allow your blockage to linger without getting it examined, and always treat sudden hearing loss as an emergency.

When Should I Be Concerned About a Blocked Ear?

If you’re on the second day of a blocked ear, you may begin to think about potential causes. Perhaps you’ll examine your activities from the past couple of days: for instance, did you get water in your ear somehow?

You might also consider your health. Are you dealing with the kind of discomfort and pain (or fever) that could be linked to an ear infection? If that’s the case, you might want to schedule an appointment.

This line of questioning is only a beginning. There are plenty of possible causes for a blocked ear:

  • Water trapped in the ear canal or eustachian tube: Sweat and water can become trapped in the little places inside your ear with alarming ease. (Temporary blockage can definitely occur if you sweat profusely).
  • Ear Infection: Your ear can ultimately become obstructed by fluid buildup or inflammation due to an ear infection.
  • Allergies: Swelling and fluid production can occur when the body’s immune system kicks in – in response to an allergic reaction.
  • Growths: Certain types of growths, bulges, and lumps can cause a blocked feeling in your ears (and even obstruct your hearing).
  • Changes in air pressure: If the pressure in the air changes abruptly, your eustachian tube can fail to adjust which can temporarily cause blockage.
  • Irreversible loss of hearing: A clogged ear and some forms of irreversible hearing loss can feel surprisingly similar. You should make an appointment if your “blocked ear” lasts longer than it should.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can cause fluid to buildup in your ears because your ears, nose and throat are all interconnected (causing a clog).
  • Earwax accumulation: Earwax can cause blockages if it’s not properly draining or if it becomes compressed, hardening in place.

How to Get Your Ears Back to Normal as Fast as You Can

So, if air pressure is the cause, your ears will usually go back to normal. You might have 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. You might have to wait even longer than that if you’re suffering from a sinus infection.

Some patience will be required before your ears get back to normal (counterintuitive though it may be), and you need to be able to change your expectations according to your actual circumstances.

The number one most important job is to not make the situation worse. When your ears start feeling blocked, you might be inclined to take out the old cotton swab and start trying to physically clear things out. All sorts of problems, from ear infections to hearing loss, can be caused by cotton swabs so this can be an especially dangerous strategy. You will probably worsen the situation if you use cotton swabs.

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

So you could be getting a little antsy if you still have no clue what might be causing your blockage. A day is usually enough time for your body to get rid of any blockage. But it might be, as a general rule of thumb, a good decision to come see us if your blockage lasts for more than a week.

Early indications of hearing loss can also feel like blocked ears. And you shouldn’t neglect hearing loss because, as you’ve most likely read in our other posts, it can lead to a whole host of other health concerns.

Being careful not to worsen the issue will normally allow the body to take care of the matter on its own. But intervention could be necessary when those natural means do not succeed. 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.