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 happen for a large number of reasons. In the majority of instances, this situation is temporary. In other cases, muffled hearing can be a precursor of more substantial hearing-related issues. In part, that’s because, aside from sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is typically not a condition that progresses suddenly. Symptoms progress gradually and over time.

One of the first symptoms of gradually 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 a sign of permanent hearing loss. Indeed, millions of individuals experience muffled hearing every year.

Perhaps you’re wondering if you should be worried about your muffled hearing. Generally, the answer varies. Recognizing the root cause of your muffled hearing is crucial to finding the correct treatment approach. Timely solutions can sometimes help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least reduce possible harm. Calling us for a consultation can help you start this process, often resulting in successful treatments, so you can continue enjoying the sounds of your day-to-day life.

What is muffled hearing?

Muffled hearing takes place when sound is unable to move through your outer, middle, and inner ear in the way that it normally does. A rather noticeable reduction in sound quality is the result. Hearing won’t be completely 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.

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

Causes of muffled hearing

There are lots of possible causes of muffled hearing. Identifying the underlying cause of your muffled hearing can be important in establishing an effective treatment plan. Here are a few of the most prevalent causes:

  • Earwax buildup: Earwax is usually a helpful thing. The health of your ear canal depends on the generation of earwax. But muffled hearing (and in some circumstances even hearing loss) can be the result of excess earwax. Try a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen things up. Never attempt to dislodge stuck earwax with 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.
  • Hearing loss related to age: Most people will experience diminishing hearing as they get older. Obviously, when you’re 80 all of your senses will be less sharp than when you were 18. This normal decline in your ability to hear can cause muffled hearing over time.
  • Infection: Sometimes, issues such as infections (such as sinus infections or ear infections) can result in inflammation in the ear canal (this is especially true with ear infections). This inflammation can cause your ear canal to swell shut, effectively decreasing your ability to hear. Once the root infection clears, any swelling it caused should also clear.
  • Travel: The changing altitude related to air travel can often cause a feeling of fullness in the ear, followed closely by muffled hearing. In most instances, this feeling will pass rapidly and your normal hearing will be restored.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a long-term balance and hearing problem. Over time, this disease can trigger tinnitus, loss of hearing (frequently starting with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be treated but not cured.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss caused by noise-related damage can sometimes cause muffled hearing. Unfortunately, this kind of hearing loss is usually permanent. One of the very first noticeable symptoms is muffled hearing; but by the time you notice the distorted sounds, damage to your stereocilia has probably already taken place. You should find treatment rapidly to avoid your hearing growing significantly worse quickly.

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

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Not all forms of muffled hearing can be cured. The root cause of your muffled hearing will determine the treatment strategy. For instance, if excessive earwax buildup is the principal cause, we may use specific tools to help you clear out your ear canal. Muffled hearing caused by an ear infection will typically clear up once the infection has been managed, so antibiotics are frequently prescribed.

In terms of sensorineural hearing loss, the emphasis changes to symptom management instead of a complete cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. However, symptoms can be controlled. There might be several approaches 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 substantially noticeable impact, especially when this process is initiated quickly.

How to steer clear of muffled hearing in the first place

No matter what you do, certain kinds of muffled hearing can’t be avoided. Infections, for instance, can’t always be avoided.

However, in most cases, 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.