Muffled Hearing: Causes and Remedies

Woman in pain for tinnitus, sound and noise problem. Healthcare, pressure and hearing loss with girl suffering with muffled hearing.

There are a wide variety of reasons for muffled hearing. For most individuals, it’s a short-term situation. In other instances, muffled hearing can be a precursor of more significant hearing-related issues. In part, that’s because, aside from sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is generally not a condition that develops suddenly. Symptoms develop gradually and over time.

One of the first symptoms of slowly progressing long-term hearing loss is the feeling that your hearing is muffled. However, it’s significant to point out that muffled hearing in and of itself isn’t always an indication of long-term hearing loss. Indeed, millions of individuals experience muffled hearing each year.

Perhaps you’re wondering if you should be concerned about your muffled hearing. Generally, the answer varies. Understanding the root cause of your muffled hearing is essential to finding the right treatment strategy. Prompt solutions can in some cases help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least reduce possible damage. Contacting us for a consultation can help you begin this process, typically leading to successful treatments, so you can continue enjoying the sounds of your everyday life.

What is muffled hearing?

Muffled hearing takes place when sound is unable to travel through your outer, middle, and inner ear in the way that it ordinarily does. This results in a noticeable decrease in sound quality. Hearing won’t be entirely gone with muffled hearing but things will sound distorted and quieter. This may especially impact your ability to hear and understand voices and spoken language.

In many cases, and depending on the root cause, muffled hearing can be combined with a sense of fullness or stuffiness in your ears. Sometimes, when you’re on a plane or have a cold you may experience this feeling. Muffled hearing is not always associated with this feeling, however.

Causes of muffled hearing

There are lots of possible causes of muffled hearing. Figuring out the root cause of your muffled hearing can be significant in establishing a successful treatment plan. Some of the most common causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from persistent hearing and balance problems. Over time, this disease can cause tinnitus, loss of hearing (frequently beginning with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be managed but not cured.
  • Earwax buildup: Earwax is generally a helpful thing. It helps keep your ear canal healthy. But muffled hearing (and in some cases even hearing loss) can be the consequence of excess earwax. This earwax can usually be loosened up by utilizing a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. Never attempt to free stuck earwax by using a cotton swab which will only push the wax further up into the ear canal. If the issue continues, come in and talk to us.
  • Age-related hearing loss: Most people will experience diminishing hearing as they age. Obviously, when you’re 80 all of your senses will be less sharp than when you were 18. Over time, muffled hearing can be the outcome of this natural decline of your hearing.
  • Travel: Altitude changes, like when you’re on a plane, can lead to a feeling of muffled ears. In most instances, this feeling will pass quickly and your normal hearing will be restored.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: In some cases, muffled hearing can be the outcome of noise-related hearing loss. This form of hearing loss is, unfortunately, normally permanent. Muffled hearing is frequently one of the very first noticeable symptoms; but damage to your stereocilia has usually already occurred by the time you detect the distorted sounds. If you don’t seek out treatment quickly, your hearing will rapidly get worse.
  • Infection: Sometimes, issues such as infections (such as sinus infections or ear infections) can cause swelling in the ear canal (this is especially true with ear infections). This will reduce your ability to hear by causing the ear canal to swell shut. Muffled hearing symptoms brought on by infections will usually go away once the underlying illness has been dealt with.

Depending on the root cause, the exact symptoms of muffled hearing will vary.

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Some types of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The underlying cause of your muffled hearing will establish the treatment method. For example, if excessive earwax buildup is the primary cause, we might use specific tools to help you clear out your ear canal. Antibiotics are typically prescribed if your muffled hearing is being caused by an infection.

When it comes to sensorineural hearing loss, the emphasis changes to symptom management rather than a complete cure. That’s because sensorineural hearing loss can’t be reversed. But it is possible to manage symptoms. There might be several strategies to this treatment including a pair of hearing aids.

Hearing aids can help you stay connected to loved ones and go about your daily activities without a substantially noticeable impact, particularly when this process is initiated promptly.

Avoiding muffled hearing

Some forms of muffled hearing are hard to avoid, no matter what. Infections, for instance, can’t always be avoided.

However, in most instances, regular hearing tests can help you steer clear of many of the causes of muffled hearing and detect any permanent hearing loss early. These examinations can help you stay on top of your hearing health and get treatment quickly.

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.


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