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 large number of reasons for muffled hearing. For most individuals, it’s a temporary situation. In other instances, muffled hearing can be a precursor of more substantial hearing-related issues. In part, that’s because, outside of sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is usually not a condition that develops suddenly. 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 an indication that you are developing long-term hearing loss. Indeed, millions of individuals experience muffled hearing every year.

Perhaps you’re wondering if you should be concerned about your muffled hearing. The answer depends on several factors. Finding the proper treatment for your muffled hearing depends on understanding the underlying cause. Timely solutions can in some cases help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least minimize possible harm. Calling 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.

Muffled Hearing – what exactly is it?

When sound can’t move 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 the majority of instances, individuals with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but things sound quieter or distorted. Discerning speech and language can be particularly difficult.

In many instances, and depending on the underlying cause, muffled hearing can be combined with a sense of fullness or stuffiness in your ears. Lots of individuals have experienced this feeling for a short time, for example, when they have a cold or when they are flying. Muffled hearing is not always associated with this feeling, however.

What causes muffled hearing?

Muffled hearing can be caused by all kinds of issues. In order to formulate the suitable course of treatment, it’s essential to determine the root cause. Some of the most prevalent causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss which results from noise damage can sometimes bring about muffled hearing. Sadly, this form of hearing loss is normally irreversible. Muffled hearing is frequently one of the very first detectable symptoms; but damage to your stereocilia has likely already happened by the time you detect the distorted sounds. You should find treatment promptly to avoid your hearing getting significantly worse quickly.
  • Travel: The changing altitude related to air travel can frequently cause a plugged feeling in the ear, accompanied by muffled hearing. Your hearing will go back to normal rather quickly once your physical conditions return to normal.
  • Infection: Swelling of the ear canal will often come with problems such as ear infections or sinus infections. This swelling can cause your ear canal to be completely blocked, effectively decreasing your ability to hear. Once the base infection goes away, any inflammation it caused should also clear.
  • Age-associated hearing loss: Most individuals will experience decreasing hearing as they get older. After all, there are few senses as acute when you are 80 as they were when you are 18. Over time, muffled hearing can be the consequence of this normal diminishing of your hearing.
  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from persistent hearing and balance issues. Dizziness, balance problems, tinnitus, and muffled ears will develop over time as a result of this disease. There is no cure for Meniere’s Disease, but symptoms can be treated.
  • Earwax buildup: Usually, earwax is a positive thing. The health of your ear canal depends on the production of earwax. But muffled hearing (and in some instances even hearing loss) can be the consequence of excess earwax. Try a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen things up. Do not make use of a cotton swab to try to free the earwax, as cotton swabs can compact your earwax and make the issue worse. If the problem continues, come in and see us.

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

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Some forms of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The treatment for your muffled hearing will differ depending on the underlying cause. For example, if excessive earwax buildup is the principal cause, we might use specific tools to help you clear out your ear canal. Muffled hearing caused by an ear infection will usually clear up once the infection has been managed, so antibiotics are usually prescribed.

When it comes to sensorineural hearing loss, the emphasis 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 numerous strategies to this treatment including a pair of hearing aids.

With hearing aids, you can continue to enjoy your daily 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.

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. Call 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.