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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. For most people, it’s a short-term situation. In other instances, muffled hearing can be a precursor of more significant hearing-related problems. That’s because, in general, hearing loss is a slowly progressing condition. Symptoms develop gradually and over time.

Often, one of the first recognizable symptoms is a sense that sounds feel muffled, distorted, or quieter. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t necessarily a sign that you are developing long-term hearing loss. Indeed, millions of people experience muffled hearing each year.

Perhaps you’re wondering if you should be concerned about your muffled hearing. The answer depends on various factors. Understanding the root cause of your muffled hearing is crucial to finding the correct treatment plan. Timely solutions can sometimes help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least reduce possible damage. Contacting us for a consultation can help you start this process, often leading to 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 results in a noticeable decrease in sound quality. In most instances, individuals with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but things sound quieter or distorted. Hearing speech and language can be especially challenging.

Your ears will frequently also feel clogged up when your hearing is muffled. Lots of individuals have experienced this feeling temporarily, for example, when they have a cold or are taking a flight. Muffled hearing isn’t always associated with this feeling, however.

Causes of muffled hearing

There are lots of potential causes of muffled hearing. In order to establish the appropriate course of treatment, it’s essential to figure out the root cause. Here are several of the most common causes:

  • Earwax buildup: Earwax is generally a helpful thing. The health of your ear canal relies on the generation of earwax. But muffled hearing (and in some cases even hearing loss) can be the consequence of excess earwax. Try a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen the wax up. Never attempt to free stuck earwax by using a cotton swab which will only pack the wax further up into the ear canal. If the issue persists, come in and talk to us.
  • Travel: Altitude changes, such as when you’re on a plane, can lead to a feeling of muffled ears. Your hearing will go back to normal relatively quickly once your physical conditions return to normal.
  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from persistent hearing and balance problems. Dizziness, balance problems, tinnitus, and muffled ears will develop over time because of this disease. There’s no cure for Meniere’s Disease, but symptoms can be treated.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss which results from noise damage can sometimes bring about muffled hearing. Sadly, this type of hearing loss is normally permanent. One of the earliest recognizable symptoms is muffled hearing; but damage to your stereocilia has usually already occurred by the time you notice the distorted sounds. If you don’t find treatment quickly, your hearing will rapidly get worse.
  • Infection: Swelling of the ear canal will often accompany issues like ear infections or sinus infections. This swelling can cause your ear canal to be completely blocked, effectively decreasing your ability to hear. Muffled hearing symptoms caused by infections will normally clear up once the root illness has been dealt with.
  • Age-related hearing loss: Most individuals will experience diminishing hearing as they age. After all, there are few senses as sharp when you are 80 as they were when you are 18. This normal diminishing in your ability to hear can cause muffled hearing over time.

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 treatment for your muffled hearing will change depending on the root cause. For instance, if excessive earwax buildup is the main cause, we may use specific tools to help you clean out your ear canal. Antibiotics are typically prescribed if your muffled hearing is being caused by an infection.

When it comes to sensorineural hearing loss, the focus changes to symptom management rather than a complete cure. That’s because sensorineural hearing loss can not be cured. But it is possible to manage symptoms. This might take a number of forms, but the most common is using a set of hearing aids so that you can bring clarity to what you hear.

Hearing aids can help you stay connected to loved ones and tackle your daily activities without a substantially noticeable impact, particularly when this process is initiated promptly.

How to steer clear of muffled hearing in the first place

Some types of muffled hearing are difficult to avoid, no matter what. For example, ear infections and sinus infections are hard to reliably avoid.

Getting your hearing examined, however, can help detect any causes of muffled hearing and can help avoid 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.