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. For most people, it’s a temporary experience. In other instances, muffled hearing can be a precursor of more serious 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. However, it’s important to point out that muffled hearing in and of itself isn’t always an indication of long-term hearing loss. Each year millions of people experience muffled hearing.

Perhaps you’re wondering if you should be worried about your muffled hearing. The answer depends on several factors. Finding the best treatment for your muffled hearing depends on recognizing the underlying cause. Prompt solutions can in some cases help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least minimize possible damage. Calling us for a consultation can help you begin this process, typically 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. A very noticeable reduction in sound fidelity is the outcome. Hearing won’t be entirely gone with muffled hearing but things will sound garbled and quieter. This may particularly affect your ability to hear and understand voices and spoken language.

In many cases, and depending on the root cause, muffled hearing can be associated with a sense of fullness or stuffiness in your ears. Many people have experienced this feeling for a short time, for instance, when they have a cold or are taking a flight. Muffled hearing is not always accompanied by this feeling, however.

Causes of muffled hearing

Muffled hearing can be caused by all kinds of issues. Figuring out the underlying cause of your muffled hearing can be significant in establishing a successful treatment plan. Some of the most common causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • 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.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss which results from noise-related damage can sometimes bring about muffled hearing. Unfortunately, this type of hearing loss is usually irreversible. Muffled hearing is often one of the very first detectable symptoms; but by the time you detect 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.
  • Earwax buildup: Normally, earwax is a good thing. It helps keep your ear canal healthy. But muffled hearing (and in some instances even hearing loss) can be the result of excess earwax. Try a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen things up. Do not utilize a cotton swab to try to free the earwax, as cotton swabs can compact your earwax and make the issue worse. We can help if the issue continues.
  • Hearing loss related to age: As you age, your hearing can decline as a result of natural causes. After all, there are few senses as sharp when you are 80 as they were when you are 18. This natural decline in your ability to hear can cause muffled hearing over time.
  • 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 manifest over time due to this disease. There’s no cure for Meniere’s Disease, but symptoms can be managed.
  • Infection: Sometimes, problems like infections (including sinus infections or ear infections) can result in swelling in the ear canal (this is particularly true with ear infections). This will reduce your ability to hear by causing the ear canal to swell shut. Muffled hearing symptoms brought on by infections will normally clear up after the underlying illness has been treated.

The exact 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 underlying cause of your muffled hearing will establish the treatment method. For instance, if excess earwax buildup is the principal cause, we might 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 emphasis changes to symptom management rather than a complete cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. However, symptoms can be controlled. This may take a number of forms, but the most common is the use of a set of hearing aids so that you can bring clarity to what you hear.

With hearing aids, you can continue to enjoy your day-to-day activities without hearing loss effecting your quality of life.

Avoiding muffled hearing

No matter what you do, some forms of muffled hearing can’t be prevented. Infections, for example, can’t always be avoided.

Getting your hearing tested, however, can help identify any causes of muffled hearing and can help avoid any long-term hearing loss that might be developing. These examinations 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.

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