My Ears Are Clogged – What is That?

Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

You’re on day two. There’s still total obstruction in your right ear. 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 improve after a night’s sleep as you were hoping it would. So will your clogged ear clear up soon?

It probably won’t be a great surprise to discover that the single biggest variable in projecting the duration of your blocked ear will be the cause of the obstruction. Some blockages recede by themselves and fairly quickly at that; others may linger and require medical intervention.

As a general rule, however, if your blockage lasts much longer than a week, you might want to seek out some help.

When Does a Clogged Ear Become a Concern?

If you’re on the second day of a blocked ear, you might start thinking about potential causes. Perhaps you’ll examine your activities from the previous couple of days: for example, did you get water in your ear somehow?

What about your state of health? Do have any symptoms of an ear infection? If that’s the scenario, you may want to make an appointment.

This line of questioning is merely a starting point. A blocked ear could have numerous possible causes:

  • Growths: Some types of growths, lumps, and bulges can cause a blocked feeling in your ears (and even interfere with your hearing).
  • Build-up of earwax: If earwax becomes compacted or is not properly draining it can result in blockages..
  • Water stuck in the eustachian tube or ear canal: Sweat and water can become stuck in the tiny areas of your ear with alarming ease. (If you tend to sweat copiously, this can certainly end up temporarily clogging your ears).
  • Air pressure changes: Once in a while, your Eustachian tube can fail to adjust properly to changes in air pressure, creating the feeling of a temporary blockage in one or both ears.
  • Permanent hearing impairment: A clogged 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: Your ear can eventually become blocked by fluid buildup or inflammation due to an ear infection.
  • Allergies: Some pollen allergies can trigger the body’s immune system response, which in turn produces swelling and fluid.
  • Sinus infection: Sinus infections can produce fluid accumulate in your ears because your ears, throat, and nose are all interconnected (causing a clog).

The Quickest Way to Bring Your Ears Back to Normal

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

Bringing your ears back to normal as fast as you can, then, will normally involve a bit of patience (though that might feel counterintuitive), and your expectations should be, well, adjustable.

Your first and most important task is to not cause the situation to get worse. When your ears start feeling clogged, you may be tempted to take out the old cotton swab and start trying to physically clear your ears out. All kinds of problems, from ear infections to hearing loss, can be caused by cotton swabs so this can be an especially dangerous approach. You will most likely worsen the situation if you use cotton swabs.

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

So you might be getting a little antsy if a couple of days go by and you still have no idea what might be the cause of your blockage. A few days is normally enough time for your body to eliminate 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 clogged ears. And as you probably know from our other posts, untreated hearing loss can cause other health concerns, 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 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.