Why do my Ears Feel Clogged?

Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

It’s day two. There’s still blockage in your right ear. The last time you remember hearing anything in that direction was yesterday morning. Your left ear is trying to compensate, naturally, but only hearing from one direction is leaving you feeling off-balance. You were hoping it would have cleared up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not happening. So, how long will your ear remain clogged?

Exactly how long your blockage will last depends, not surprisingly, on what the cause of the blockage is. Some blockages recede on their own and somewhat quickly at that; others might persist and call for medical intervention.

As a rule of thumb, however, if your blockage lasts, you might want to seek out some help. And treat any sudden hearing loss as an emergency – seek out medical attention.

When Should I Be Concerned About a Blocked Ear?

You will probably wonder about it after 24 hours. Maybe you’ll think about your activities from the past couple of days: were you doing anything that might have led to water getting stuck in your ear, for example?

You might also examine your health. Are you suffering from the kind of discomfort and pain (or fever) that could be linked to an ear infection? If that’s the case, you may want to make an appointment.

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

  • Build-up of earwax: If earwax gets compressed or is not thoroughly draining it can cause blockages..
  • Growths: Your ears can have growths, lumps, and bulges which can even block your ears.
  • Permanent hearing impairment: Some types of hearing loss feel a lot like a clogged ear. If your “blocked ear” is persisting longer than it should, you need to have it checked out.
  • Water trapped in the ear canal or eustachian tube: The little areas in the ear are alarmingly good at capturing sweat and water. (Temporary blockage can certainly occur if you sweat profusely).
  • Ear Infection: Your ear can ultimately become clogged by fluid accumulation or inflammation from an ear infection.
  • Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, ears and throat are all interconnected, a sinus infection can produce excess fluids to become lodged in your ears (causing a clog).
  • Allergies: Swelling and fluid production can develop when the body’s immune system goes to work – in response to an allergic reaction.
  • Changes in air pressure: Occasionally, your Eustachian tube can fail to adjust properly to variations in air pressure, creating the feeling of a short-term blockage in one or both ears.

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

Your ears will probably return to normal after a day if the blockage is caused by air pressure. If an ear infection is to blame for your clogged ears, you may have to wait until your body gets rid of the virus or bacteria at work (and, if it’s the latter, antibiotics can be very helpful). This may take up to a couple of weeks. Sinus infections have been known to last even longer.

Some patience will be required before your ears get back to normal (though that might seem counterintuitive), and you need to be able to change your expectations according to your exact situation.

Not doing anything to worsen the situation is your most important first step. When you first begin to feel like your ears are clogged, it might be tempting to try and use cotton swabs to clean them out. This can be a particularly dangerous strategy (cotton swabs have been known to cause all sorts of issues and complications, from infection to hearing loss). You will most likely make the situation worse if you use cotton swabs.

If Your Ear is Still Clogged…it May be Hearing Loss

So you could be getting a little antsy if you still have no clue what might be causing your blockage. Twenty four hours is normally enough time for your body to eliminate any blockage. But the basic rule of thumb is that if things persist, it may be a good choice to come see us and see a doctor for any sudden hearing loss.

Early signs of hearing loss can also feel like clogged ears. And as you most likely know from our other posts, neglected hearing loss can result in other health problems, particularly over time.

Being careful not to worsen the problem will normally permit the body to clear up the situation on its own. But treatment may be necessary when those natural means do not succeed. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this could take a varying amount of time.

The content of this blog is the intellectual property of MedPB.com and is reprinted here with permission. The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a hearing aid consultation, call today to schedule an appointment.