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 happen for lots of reasons. In the majority of instances, this situation 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 gradually progressing condition. Symptoms progress gradually and over time.

Often, one of the first detectable symptoms is a sense that sounds feel muffled, distorted, or quieter. However, it’s significant to point out that muffled hearing in and of itself is not always an indication of long-term hearing loss. Every year millions of people experience muffled hearing.

Perhaps you’re wondering if you should be concerned about your muffled hearing. The answer depends on several factors. Recognizing the root cause of your muffled hearing is critical to finding the best treatment approach. Prompt solutions can sometimes help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least reduce possible harm. 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 day-to-day life.

What is muffled hearing?

When sound can’t travel through your outer, middle, and inner ear in a normal way, your hearing can sound muffled. This leads to a noticeable drop in sound quality. In the majority of cases, people with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but everything sounds quieter or distorted. This may especially impact your ability to discern and understand voices and spoken language.

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

What causes muffled hearing?

There are lots of possible causes of muffled hearing. In order to develop the appropriate course of treatment, it’s important to establish the root cause. Here are several of the most prevalent causes:

  • Earwax buildup: Earwax is generally a helpful thing. It helps keep your ear canal healthy. However, too much earwax can eventually cause muffled hearing (or even loss of hearing). Try a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen the wax up. Never try to dislodge stuck earwax by using a cotton swab which will only pack the wax further up into the ear canal. If the issue lingers, come in and talk to us.
  • Age-associated hearing loss: As you age, your hearing can diminish due to natural causes. After all, there are few senses as sharp when you are 80 as when you are 18. Over time, muffled hearing can be the result of this normal decline of your hearing.
  • Infection: Swelling of the ear canal will often come with issues such as ear infections or sinus infections. This inflammation can cause your ear canal to swell shut, effectively diminishing your ability to hear. Once the base infection goes away, any inflammation it caused should also clear.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a long-term balance and hearing issue. Over time, this disease can trigger tinnitus, hearing loss (frequently beginning with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be treated but not cured.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: In some cases, muffled hearing can be the consequence of noise-related hearing loss. This form of hearing loss is, unfortunately, usually permanent. One of the very first noticeable symptoms is muffled hearing; but by the time you detect the distorted sounds, damage to your stereocilia has most likely already taken place. If you don’t seek out treatment quickly, your hearing will rapidly get worse.
  • Travel: The changing air pressure associated with air travel can frequently cause a plugged feeling in the ear, accompanied by muffled hearing. Your hearing will go back to normal fairly quickly once your physical conditions return to normal.

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

Is there a cure for muffled hearing?

Some forms of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The base cause of your muffled hearing will determine the treatment strategy. We may use some special tools to help clear out your ear canal if, for example, earwax accumulation 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 frequently prescribed.

Symptom management is usually the strategy when you have sensorineural hearing loss rather than a cure. That’s because sensorineural hearing loss can not be cured. However, symptoms can be controlled. There may be several strategies to this treatment including a set of hearing aids.

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

How to steer clear of muffled hearing in the first place

No matter what you do, some kinds 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 detect any causes of muffled hearing and can help prevent any long-term hearing loss that might be developing. These examinations 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. Schedule an appointment to see if hearing aids could benefit you.