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 most cases, this situation is temporary. But muffled hearing can also be an indication that a more serious hearing issue is happening. In part, that’s because, aside from sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is usually not a condition that progresses suddenly. Symptoms develop slowly and over time.

One of the earliest symptoms of slowly developing long-term hearing loss is the sense that your hearing is muffled. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t necessarily a sign that you are developing long-term hearing loss. Indeed, millions of people experience muffled hearing every year.

You may be wondering: when do I need to be worried about muffled hearing? Generally, the answer tends to vary. Finding the correct treatment for your muffled hearing depends on recognizing the underlying cause. Additional damage can be avoided and your hearing can get back to normal with some quick solutions. Contacting us for a consultation can help you start this process, often resulting in successful treatments, so you can keep enjoying the sounds of your everyday life.

Muffled Hearing – what exactly is it?

Muffled hearing happens when sound is not able to travel through your outer, middle, and inner ear in the way that it normally does. A rather noticeable reduction in sound quality is the outcome. Hearing won’t be entirely gone with muffled hearing but things will sound garbled and quieter. This might particularly impact your ability to discern and understand voices and spoken language.

Your ears will often also feel clogged up when your hearing is muffled. Sometimes, when you’re taking a flight or have a cold you may experience this feeling. Muffled hearing isn’t always combined with this feeling, however.

Causes of muffled hearing

Muffled hearing can be caused by all kinds of issues. In order to establish the correct course of treatment, it’s important to figure out the root cause. Here are some of the most prevalent causes:

  • Earwax buildup: Usually, earwax is a good thing. The health of your ear canal depends on the generation of earwax. However, too much earwax can eventually cause muffled hearing (or even hearing loss). Try a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen the wax up. Never attempt to dislodge stuck earwax by using a cotton swab which will only push the wax further up into the ear canal. If the problem continues, come in and see us.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: In some cases, muffled hearing can be the outcome of noise-related hearing loss. This form of hearing loss is, regrettably, normally irreversible. Muffled hearing is frequently one of the first noticeable symptoms; but damage to your stereocilia has likely already happened by the time you notice the distorted sounds. You should find treatment promptly to avoid your hearing getting considerably worse quickly.
  • Travel: The changing altitude associated with air travel can frequently cause a plugged feeling in the ear, followed closely by muffled hearing. In most cases, this feeling will pass rapidly and your normal hearing will be restored.
  • Infection: Sometimes, problems such as infections (including sinus infections or ear infections) can result in swelling in the ear canal (this is particularly true with ear infections). This will decrease your ability to hear by causing the ear canal to swell shut. Muffled hearing symptoms caused by infections will normally go away after the root illness has been treated.
  • Hearing loss associated with age: As you get older, your hearing can decline due to natural causes. Obviously, when you’re 80 all of your senses will be less sharp than when you were 18. Over time, muffled hearing can be the outcome of this normal diminishing of your hearing.
  • 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 as a result of this disease. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be managed but not cured.

Depending on the root cause, the precise symptoms of muffled hearing will vary.

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Some types of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The treatment for your muffled hearing will differ depending on the base cause. For example, if excess earwax buildup is the principal cause, we might use specific tools to help you clean out your ear canal. Antibiotics are frequently prescribed if your muffled hearing is being caused by an infection.

In terms of sensorineural hearing loss, the focus changes to symptom management instead of a total cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. But it is possible to manage symptoms. There may be several strategies to this treatment including a set of hearing aids.

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

How to avoid muffled hearing in the first place

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

However, in most instances, regular hearing tests can help you steer clear of many of the causes of muffled hearing and detect any permanent hearing loss early. These checkups can help you stay on top of your hearing health and get treatment promptly.

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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.