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 lots of reasons. In most instances, this condition is short-term. But muffled hearing can also be a sign that a more severe hearing issue is taking place. That’s because, in general, hearing loss is a gradually developing condition. Symptoms build gradually and over time.

In many cases, one of the first noticeable symptoms is a sense that sounds feel muffled, distorted, or quieter. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t always a sign that you are developing long-term hearing loss. Indeed, millions of people experience muffled hearing every year.

You may be wondering: when do I need to be worried about muffled hearing? The answer depends on several factors. Understanding the root cause of your muffled hearing is critical to finding the best treatment plan. Prompt solutions can in some cases help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least reduce possible harm. 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. A very noticeable reduction in sound quality is the result. In most instances, those with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but things sound quieter or jumbled. Hearing speech and language can be particularly challenging.

Your ears will often also feel plugged up when your hearing is muffled. Lots of people have experienced this feeling for a short time, for instance, when they have a cold or are taking a flight. This plugged feeling, however, doesn’t always come along with muffled hearing.

What causes muffled hearing?

Muffled hearing can be caused by a wide variety of issues. In order to establish the appropriate course of treatment, it’s important to establish the root cause. Here are some of the most prevalent causes:

  • Travel: Altitude changes, such as when you’re on a plane, can lead to a feeling of muffled ears. In most cases, this feeling will go away quickly and your normal hearing will be restored.
  • Hearing loss related to age: Most people will experience diminishing hearing as they age. Needless to say, when you’re 80 all of your senses will be less acute than when you were 18. This normal decline in your ability to hear can cause muffled hearing over time.
  • Earwax buildup: Earwax is usually a helpful 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. Try a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen things up. Never try to dislodge stuck earwax with a cotton swab which will only pack the wax further up into the ear canal. If the problem lingers, come in and talk to us.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Sometimes, muffled hearing can be the outcome of noise-related hearing loss. This form of hearing loss is, unfortunately, generally irreversible. Muffled hearing is frequently one of the earliest detectable symptoms; but by the time you detect the distorted sounds, damage to your stereocilia has likely already happened. You should seek out treatment rapidly to avoid your hearing growing significantly worse quickly.
  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from chronic hearing and balance problems. Dizziness, balance issues, tinnitus, and muffled ears will manifest over time because of this disease. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be managed but not cured.
  • Infection: Swelling of the ear canal will frequently accompany problems like ear infections or sinus infections. This swelling can cause your ear canal to swell shut, effectively decreasing your ability to hear. Muffled hearing symptoms caused by infections will normally go away once the root illness has been dealt with.

Depending on the underlying cause, the precise symptoms of muffled hearing will vary.

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Not all forms of muffled hearing have a cure. The root cause of your muffled hearing will establish the treatment method. We might use some special tools to help clean out your ear canal if, for instance, earwax buildup is at the root of your muffled hearing. Antibiotics are typically prescribed if your muffled hearing is being caused by an infection.

In terms of sensorineural hearing loss, the focus changes to symptom management rather than a total cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. But it is possible to control symptoms. There might be several strategies to this treatment including a pair of hearing aids.

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

How to avoid muffled hearing in the first place

Some forms of muffled hearing are hard to avoid, no matter what. 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 detect any permanent hearing loss early. Contact 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.