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.

Muffled hearing can present for a large number of reasons. For most individuals, it’s a short-term experience. In other cases, muffled hearing can be a precursor of more substantial hearing-related issues. In part, that’s because, outside of sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is usually not a condition that progresses suddenly. Symptoms progress gradually and over time.

One of the earliest symptoms of gradually advancing long-term hearing loss is the sense that your hearing is muffled. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t always an indication that you’re developing long-term hearing loss. Every year millions of individuals experience muffled hearing.

Perhaps you’re wondering if you should be worried about your muffled hearing. The answer depends on several factors. Finding the proper treatment for your muffled hearing depends on understanding the root cause. Added damage can be prevented and your hearing can get back to normal with some quick solutions. Contacting us for a consultation can help you start this process, often resulting in successful treatments, so you can keep enjoying the sounds of your everyday life.

Muffled Hearing – what exactly is it?

Muffled hearing occurs when sound is not able to move through your outer, middle, and inner ear in the way that it ordinarily does. A very noticeable decrease in sound fidelity is the result. In most cases, individuals with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but everything sounds quieter or distorted. This might especially affect your ability to hear and understand voices and spoken language.

In many instances, 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 might experience this feeling. This plugged feeling, however, doesn’t always come along with muffled hearing.

Causes of muffled hearing

There are a lot of possible causes of muffled hearing. In order to formulate the appropriate course of treatment, it’s important to figure out the root cause. Some of the most common causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Infection: Inflammation of the ear canal will often come with problems such as ear infections or sinus infections. This swelling can cause your ear canal to be completely blocked, effectively diminishing your ability to hear. Muffled hearing symptoms caused by infections will normally clear up once the underlying illness has been treated.
  • Earwax buildup: Normally, earwax is a positive thing. The health of your ear canal depends on the production of earwax. However, too much earwax can ultimately cause muffled hearing (or even loss of hearing). This earwax can typically be loosened up by using a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. Do not use a cotton swab to try to dislodge the earwax, as cotton swabs can compact your earwax and make the problem worse. We can help if the issue continues.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a long-term balance and hearing issue. Over time, this disease can trigger tinnitus, hearing loss (frequently starting with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be managed but not cured.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: In some cases, muffled hearing can be the outcome of noise-related hearing loss. Sadly, this form of hearing loss is usually permanent. One of the first recognizable symptoms is muffled hearing; but by the time you notice the distorted sounds, damage to your stereocilia has most likely already occurred. You should seek out treatment promptly to avoid your hearing growing substantially worse quickly.
  • Hearing loss associated with age: Most people will experience decreasing hearing as they get older. After all, there are few senses as acute when you are 80 as they were when you are 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 cause a feeling of muffled ears. In most instances, this feeling will go away rapidly and your hearing will go back to normal.

The exact symptoms of muffled hearing will vary depending on the underlying cause.

Is there a cure for muffled hearing?

Not all kinds of muffled hearing can be cured. The treatment for your muffled hearing will differ depending on the root cause. We might use some specialized tools to help clear out your ear canal if, for instance, earwax buildup is at the root of your muffled hearing. Muffled hearing caused by an ear infection will likely clear up once the infection has been treated, so antibiotics are often prescribed.

In terms of sensorineural hearing loss, the emphasis changes to symptom management instead of a total cure. That’s because sensorineural hearing loss can’t be cured. However, symptoms can be managed. This may take several forms, but the most common is the use of a pair of hearing aids so that you can bring clarity to what you hear.

With hearing aids, you can keep enjoying your daily activities without hearing loss impacting your quality of life.

Avoiding muffled hearing

No matter what you do, some forms of muffled hearing can’t be avoided. For example, ear infections and sinus infections are hard to reliably avoid.

Having your hearing tested, however, can help identify any causes of muffled hearing and can help prevent any long-term hearing loss that might be developing. 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.

Stop struggling to hear conversations. Come see us today. Call or Text