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. In most cases, this condition is temporary. In other instances, muffled hearing can be a harbinger of more significant hearing-related issues. That’s because, for the most part, hearing loss is a slowly developing condition. Symptoms develop slowly and over time.

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

You may be wondering: when should I be concerned about muffled hearing? Generally, the answer tends to vary. Recognizing the root cause of your muffled hearing is essential to finding the right treatment approach. Additional damage can be avoided and your hearing can get back to normal with some prompt solutions. Contacting us for a consultation can help you start this process, typically leading to successful treatments, so you can continue enjoying the sounds of your everyday life.

Muffled Hearing – what exactly is it?

Muffled hearing happens when sound is not able to move through your outer, middle, and inner ear in the way that it normally does. This leads to a noticeable drop in sound quality. Hearing won’t be entirely gone with muffled hearing but things will sound distorted and quieter. This might particularly impact your ability to hear and understand voices and spoken language.

Your ears will frequently also feel clogged up when your hearing is muffled. Sometimes, when you’re taking a flight or suffering from a cold you might experience this feeling. Muffled hearing is not always associated with this feeling, however.

What causes muffled hearing?

There are a lot of possible causes of muffled hearing. In order to develop the appropriate course of treatment, it’s important to figure out the root cause. Here are some of the most prevalent causes:

  • Age-related hearing loss: Most people will experience decreasing hearing as they get older. After all, there are few senses as acute when you are 80 as when you are 18. Over time, muffled hearing can be the outcome of this normal diminishing of your hearing.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: In some cases, muffled hearing can be the consequence of noise-related hearing loss. Regrettably, this type of hearing loss is usually irreversible. One of the very first recognizable symptoms is muffled hearing; but by the time you notice the distorted sounds, damage to your stereocilia has most likely already happened. If you don’t find treatment quickly, your hearing will rapidly get worse.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a long-term balance and hearing issue. Over time, this disease can cause tinnitus, hearing loss (often starting with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. There’s no cure for Meniere’s Disease, but symptoms can be managed.
  • Infection: Sometimes, problems such as infections (including sinus infections or ear infections) can result in swelling in the ear canal (this is especially true with ear infections). This will diminish your hearing ability by causing the ear canal to swell shut. Muffled hearing symptoms due to infections will usually go away after the underlying illness has been dealt with.
  • Travel: Altitude changes, like when you’re on a plane, can lead to a feeling of muffled ears. In most instances, this feeling will go away rapidly and your normal hearing will be restored.
  • Earwax buildup: Earwax is generally a helpful thing. It helps keep your ear canal healthy. But muffled hearing (and in some instances even hearing loss) can be the consequence of excess earwax. Try a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen things up. Do not make use of a cotton swab to try to dislodge the earwax, as cotton swabs can compact your earwax and make the issue worse. We can help if the issue persists.

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

Is there a cure for muffled hearing?

Some types of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The treatment for your muffled hearing will differ depending on the base cause. For example, if excessive earwax buildup is the primary cause, we might use specific tools to help you clear out your ear canal. Muffled hearing caused by an ear infection will typically clear up once the infection has been addressed, so antibiotics are frequently prescribed.

Symptom management is generally the approach when you have sensorineural hearing loss as opposed to a cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. However, symptoms can be controlled. This may take several forms, but the most prevalent is the use of a pair of hearing aids in order to bring clarity to what you hear.

Hearing aids can help you stay connected to loved ones and go about your day-to-day activities without a substantially noticeable effect, especially when this process is initiated quickly.

Avoiding muffled hearing

Some forms of muffled hearing are hard to avoid, no matter what. For instance, ear infections and sinus infections are hard to easily avoid.

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. Call us for an appointment right away.

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.