Causes of Muffled Hearing and Some Solutions

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

There are a large number of reasons for muffled hearing. In the majority of cases, this condition is short-term. But muffled hearing can also be a sign that a more severe hearing problem is happening. Partly, that’s because, outside of sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is usually not a condition that develops suddenly. Symptoms develop gradually over a long time period.

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 necessarily a sign that you’re developing permanent hearing loss. Indeed, millions of people experience muffled hearing each year.

You may be wondering: when do I need to be worried about muffled hearing? The answer depends on various factors. Finding the correct treatment for your muffled hearing depends on recognizing the underlying cause. Prompt solutions can in some cases help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least minimize possible damage. You will be able to get back to enjoying the sounds of your life after you get us to help you with some successful treatments.

Muffled Hearing – what exactly is it?

Muffled hearing happens when sound is unable to travel through your outer, middle, and inner ear in the way that it usually does. This leads to a noticeable drop in sound quality. In most instances, people with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but everything sounds quieter or jumbled. This may particularly impact your ability to hear and understand voices and spoken language.

Your ears will frequently also feel plugged up when your hearing is muffled. Sometimes, when you’re taking a flight or have a cold you may experience this feeling. Muffled hearing isn’t always combined with this feeling, however.

What causes muffled hearing?

There are lots of potential causes of muffled hearing. In order to establish the correct course of treatment, it’s important to figure out the root cause. Some of the most prevalent causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Hearing loss associated with age: Most individuals will experience diminishing hearing as they get older. 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 normal diminishing of your hearing.
  • Infection: Swelling of the ear canal will frequently come with problems such as ear infections or sinus infections. This inflammation can cause your ear canal to be completely blocked, effectively diminishing your ability to hear. Muffled hearing symptoms due to infections will normally clear up after the root illness has been dealt with.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a chronic balance and hearing problem. Over time, this disease can cause tinnitus, loss of hearing (often starting with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be managed but not cured.
  • Earwax buildup: Usually, earwax is a good 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. This earwax can typically be loosened up by utilizing a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide. Do not use a cotton swab to try to dislodge the earwax, as cotton swabs can condense your earwax and make the issue worse. If the problem continues, come in and see us.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: In some cases, muffled hearing can be the outcome of noise-related hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is, sadly, usually permanent. One of the earliest noticeable symptoms is muffled hearing; but damage to your stereocilia has likely already happened by the time you notice the distorted sounds. If you don’t find treatment quickly, your hearing will rapidly get worse.
  • Travel: Altitude changes, like when you’re on a plane, can cause a feeling of muffled ears. Your hearing will go back to normal rather quickly once your physical conditions return to normal.

The precise symptoms of muffled hearing will vary depending on the root cause.

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Not all kinds of muffled hearing have a cure. 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 clean out your ear canal. Muffled hearing caused by an ear infection will usually clear up once the infection has been treated, so antibiotics are usually prescribed.

In terms of sensorineural hearing loss, the emphasis changes to symptom management as opposed to a complete cure. That’s because sensorineural hearing loss can not be cured. But it is possible to control symptoms. There may be numerous approaches to this treatment including a set of hearing aids.

With hearing aids, you can continue to enjoy your day-to-day activities without hearing loss impacting your quality of life.

Avoiding muffled hearing

No matter what you do, certain kinds of muffled hearing can’t be prevented. For example, ear infections and sinus infections are hard to easily avoid.

However, in most instances, routine hearing tests can help you avoid many of the causes of muffled hearing and identify any permanent hearing loss early. These checkups can help you stay on top of your hearing health and get treatment promptly.

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.