Muffled Hearing: Causes and Solutions

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

Muffled hearing can present for a large number of reasons. For most people, it’s a temporary situation. But muffled hearing can also be an indication that a more serious hearing problem is occurring. That’s because, for the most part, hearing loss is a slowly progressing condition. Symptoms show up slowly over a long period of time.

One of the first symptoms of gradually advancing long-term hearing loss is the feeling that your hearing is muffled. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t always a sign that you are developing permanent hearing loss. Each year millions of people experience muffled hearing.

You might be wondering: when do I need to be worried about muffled hearing? Generally, the answer tends to vary. Understanding the root cause of your muffled hearing is essential to finding the best treatment strategy. Prompt solutions can in some cases help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least minimize possible harm. Calling us for a consultation can help you start this process, often leading to successful treatments, so you can keep enjoying the sounds of your everyday life.

What is muffled hearing?

When sound can’t move through your outer, middle, and inner ear in a normal way, your hearing can sound muffled. A rather noticeable decline in sound fidelity is the outcome. In most cases, people with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but things sound quieter or jumbled. This may particularly affect your ability to discern and understand voices and spoken language.

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

Causes of muffled hearing

Muffled hearing can be caused by a wide variety of problems. In order to establish the appropriate course of treatment, it’s important to figure out the root cause. Here are a few of the most common causes:

  • Infection: Inflammation of the ear canal will frequently accompany problems like ear infections or sinus infections. This will reduce your hearing ability by causing the ear canal to swell shut. Muffled hearing symptoms due to infections will usually go away once the underlying illness has been dealt with.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a long-term balance and hearing problem. Dizziness, balance problems, tinnitus, and muffled ears will develop over time due to this disease. There’s no cure for Meniere’s Disease, but symptoms can be managed.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Sometimes, muffled hearing can be the result of noise-related hearing loss. This kind of hearing loss is, sadly, generally permanent. Muffled hearing is frequently one of the very first detectable symptoms; but by the time you detect the distorted sounds, damage to your stereocilia has likely already happened. You should seek out treatment promptly to avoid your hearing getting considerably worse quickly.
  • Travel: Altitude changes, such as when you’re on a plane, can cause a feeling of muffled ears. In most cases, this feeling will pass quickly and your hearing will go back to normal.
  • Earwax buildup: Earwax is usually a helpful thing. It helps keep your ear canal healthy. But muffled hearing (and in some cases even hearing loss) can be the result of too much earwax. Try a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen things up. Never attempt to free stuck earwax by using a cotton swab which will only push the wax further up into the ear canal. We can help if the issue continues.
  • Age-associated hearing loss: As you age, your hearing can diminish due to natural causes. Obviously, when you’re 80 all of your senses will be less acute than when you were 18. Over time, muffled hearing can be the result of this natural decline of your ability to hear.

The precise symptoms of muffled hearing will differ depending on the base cause.

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Some forms of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The treatment for your muffled hearing will differ depending on the root cause. For example, if excess 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.

Symptom management is generally the strategy when you’re dealing with sensorineural hearing loss as opposed to a cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. However, symptoms can be controlled. There might be numerous approaches to this treatment including a pair of hearing aids.

Hearing aids can help you remain connected to loved ones and tackle your day-to-day activities without a significantly noticeable effect, particularly when this process is initiated quickly.

Avoiding muffled hearing

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

Having your hearing examined, however, can help identify any causes of muffled hearing and can help prevent any long-term hearing loss that may be developing. These examinations can help you stay on top of your hearing health and get treatment promptly.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.

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