Muffled Hearing: Causes and Remedies

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 short-term situation. In other instances, muffled hearing can be a harbinger of more significant hearing-related issues. Partly, that’s because, aside from sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is generally not a condition that progresses suddenly. Symptoms develop gradually over a long period of time.

One of the first symptoms of slowly progressing long-term hearing loss is the sense that your hearing is muffled. However, it’s essential 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 each year.

You may be wondering: when should I be concerned about muffled hearing? Generally, the answer varies. Finding the proper treatment for your muffled hearing depends on understanding the root cause. Timely solutions can in some cases help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least reduce possible harm. Contacting us for a consultation can help you begin this process, typically leading to successful treatments, so you can continue enjoying the sounds of your everyday 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. This results in a noticeable drop in sound quality. Hearing won’t be totally gone with muffled hearing but things will sound distorted and quieter. This might particularly affect your ability to discern and understand voices and spoken language.

Your ears will frequently also feel plugged up when your hearing is muffled. Sometimes, when you’re taking a flight or suffering from a cold you may experience this feeling. Muffled hearing is not always combined with this feeling, however.

What causes muffled hearing?

There are a lot of possible causes of muffled hearing. In order to develop the suitable course of treatment, it’s important to figure out the root cause. Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Age-related hearing loss: Most individuals will experience decreasing hearing as they age. After all, there are few senses as sharp when you are 80 as they were when you are 18. This normal decline in your ability to hear can cause muffled hearing over time.
  • Earwax buildup: Usually, earwax is a good 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 too much earwax. Try a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen things up. Do not utilize a cotton swab to attempt to free the earwax, as cotton swabs can condense your earwax and make the problem worse. If the problem lingers, come in and talk to us.
  • Infection: Inflammation of the ear canal will often accompany problems like ear infections or sinus infections. This swelling can cause your ear canal to be completely blocked, effectively diminishing your ability to hear. Muffled hearing symptoms caused by infections will usually go away after the underlying illness has been dealt with.
  • Travel: Altitude changes, like when you’re on a plane, can cause a feeling of muffled ears. In most cases, this feeling will go away rapidly and your hearing will go back to normal.
  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from persistent hearing and balance issues. Dizziness, balance issues, tinnitus, and muffled ears will manifest over time due to this disease. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be treated but not cured.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss which results from noise damage can sometimes bring about muffled hearing. This form of hearing loss is, regrettably, usually irreversible. One of the first recognizable symptoms is muffled hearing; but by the time you notice 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.

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

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Not all kinds of muffled hearing can be cured. The treatment for your muffled hearing will change depending on the root cause. For instance, if excess earwax buildup is the main cause, we might use specific tools to help you clean out your ear canal. Muffled hearing caused by an ear infection will typically clear up once the infection has been addressed, so antibiotics are often prescribed.

Symptom management is usually the approach when you have sensorineural hearing loss as opposed to a cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. However, symptoms can be controlled. There may be several strategies to this treatment including a pair of hearing aids.

With hearing aids, you can keep enjoying your day-to-day activities without hearing loss impacting your quality of life.

How to avoid muffled hearing in the first place

Some types of muffled hearing are difficult to avoid, no matter what. Infections, for example, can’t always be avoided.

Getting your hearing examined, however, can help identify any causes of muffled hearing and can help prevent any long-term hearing loss that may be developing. 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.