Causes of Muffled Hearing and Some Remedies

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. In the majority of instances, this situation is short-term. But muffled hearing can also be a sign that a more severe hearing issue is occurring. That’s because, in general, hearing loss is a gradually 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. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t always a sign that you’re developing long-term 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 critical to finding the correct treatment strategy. Prompt solutions can sometimes help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least minimize possible harm. Contacting us for a consultation can help you begin this process, often leading to successful treatments, so you can keep enjoying the sounds of your everyday life.

What is muffled hearing?

Muffled hearing occurs when sound is unable to move through your outer, middle, and inner ear in the way that it usually does. This results in a noticeable drop in sound quality. In the majority of cases, those with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but things sound quieter or distorted. Hearing speech and language can be particularly tough.

Your ears will often also feel clogged up when your hearing is muffled. Many individuals have experienced this feeling temporarily, for instance, when they have a cold or when they are flying. This plugged feeling, however, doesn’t always come along with muffled hearing.

What causes muffled hearing?

There are a lot of possible causes of muffled hearing. In order to develop the correct course of treatment, it’s essential to figure out the root cause. Some of the most common causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • 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 cases even hearing loss) can be the consequence of too much earwax. This earwax can typically be loosened up by using a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. Do not use a cotton swab to attempt to free the earwax, as cotton swabs can compact your earwax and make the issue worse. We can help if the problem continues.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Sometimes, muffled hearing can be the outcome of noise-related hearing loss. Sadly, this type of hearing loss is normally permanent. Muffled hearing is often one of the very first noticeable symptoms; but by the time you detect the distorted sounds, damage to your stereocilia has likely already taken place. If you don’t seek out treatment quickly, your hearing will rapidly get worse.
  • Infection: Sometimes, issues like infections (including sinus infections or ear infections) can cause swelling in the ear canal (this is especially true with ear infections). This will diminish your hearing ability by causing the ear canal to swell shut. Once the base infection goes away, any swelling it caused should also clear.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a long-term balance and hearing problem. Over time, this disease can cause tinnitus, loss of hearing (often beginning with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. There’s no cure for Meniere’s Disease, but symptoms can be managed.
  • Travel: Altitude changes, like when you’re on a plane, can cause a feeling of muffled ears. Your hearing will go back to normal relatively quickly once your physical conditions return to normal.
  • Age-related hearing loss: As you age, your hearing can diminish due to natural causes. After all, there are few senses as acute when you are 80 as when you are 18. This normal diminishing in your hearing ability can cause muffled hearing over time.

Depending on the underlying cause, the exact symptoms of muffled hearing will differ.

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Some types of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The treatment for your muffled hearing will change depending on the root cause. For example, if excess earwax buildup is the primary cause, we may 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 frequently prescribed.

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. However, symptoms can be controlled. There might be numerous approaches to this treatment including a pair of hearing aids.

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

How to steer clear of muffled hearing in the first place

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

Having your hearing examined, however, can help identify any causes of muffled hearing and can help prevent any long-term hearing loss that might be developing. These examinations can help you stay on top of your hearing health and get treatment promptly.

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.