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.

There are a wide variety of reasons for muffled hearing. In most cases, this condition is short-term. In other cases, muffled hearing can be a precursor of more serious hearing-related issues. That’s because, for the most part, hearing loss is a slowly progressing condition. Symptoms show up gradually over a long period of time.

Typically, one of the first recognizable symptoms is a sense that sounds feel muffled, distorted, or quieter. However, it’s essential to point out that muffled hearing in and of itself is not always a sign of permanent hearing loss. Indeed, millions of people experience muffled hearing every year.

Perhaps you’re wondering if you should be worried about your muffled hearing. Generally, the answer varies. Finding the proper treatment for your muffled hearing depends on understanding the underlying cause. Prompt solutions can in some cases help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least reduce possible harm. Contacting us for a consultation can help you begin 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 happens when sound is not able to travel through your outer, middle, and inner ear in the way that it ordinarily does. A very noticeable decrease in sound quality is the result. Hearing won’t be totally gone with muffled hearing but things will sound distorted and quieter. Hearing speech and language can be particularly challenging.

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 suffering from a cold you might 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. In order to establish the appropriate course of treatment, it’s important to determine the root cause. Some of the most common causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Hearing loss related to age: As you age, your hearing can decline due to natural causes. Obviously, when you’re 80 all of your senses will be less acute than when you were 18. This natural decline in your hearing ability can cause muffled hearing over time.
  • Infection: Inflammation of the ear canal will frequently accompany problems like ear infections or sinus infections. This will diminish your hearing ability by causing the ear canal to swell shut. Muffled hearing symptoms due to infections will normally clear up after the underlying illness has been dealt with.
  • Earwax buildup: Normally, earwax is a good thing. The health of your ear canal relies on the production of earwax. But muffled hearing (and in some cases even hearing loss) can be the consequence of too much earwax. This earwax can usually be loosened up by utilizing a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. Never attempt to dislodge stuck earwax with a cotton swab which will only push the wax further up into the ear canal. If the issue continues, come in and see us.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: In some cases, muffled hearing can be the consequence of noise-related hearing loss. Regrettably, this kind of hearing loss is normally irreversible. Muffled hearing is frequently one of the very first noticeable symptoms; but by the time you notice the distorted sounds, damage to your stereocilia has most likely already taken place. You should seek out treatment rapidly to avoid your hearing getting substantially worse quickly.
  • Travel: Altitude changes, such as 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.
  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from persistent hearing and balance issues. 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.

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

Is there a cure for muffled hearing?

Not all kinds of muffled hearing have a cure. The treatment for your muffled hearing will differ depending on the root cause. We might use some specialized tools to help clean out your ear canal if, for example, 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 addressed, so antibiotics are frequently prescribed.

In terms of sensorineural hearing loss, the focus changes to symptom management as opposed to a complete cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. However, symptoms can be managed. There may be several approaches to this treatment including a set of hearing aids.

Hearing aids can help you remain connected to loved ones and tackle your daily activities without a substantially noticeable impact, especially when this process is started quickly.

Avoiding muffled hearing

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

Getting your hearing tested, however, can help detect any causes of muffled hearing and can help prevent any long-term hearing loss that may be developing. These checkups 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.