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.

Muffled hearing can present for lots of reasons. For the majority of people, it’s a temporary situation. But muffled hearing can also be a sign that a more severe hearing issue is happening. In part, that’s because, outside of sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is generally not a condition that progresses suddenly. Symptoms develop slowly and over time.

Often, one of the first detectable symptoms is a sense that sounds feel muffled, distorted, or quieter. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t necessarily a sign that you’re developing permanent hearing loss. Every year millions of people experience muffled hearing.

You may be wondering: when should I be worried about muffled hearing? The answer depends on a number of factors. Finding the best treatment for your muffled hearing depends on understanding the root cause. Additional damage can be prevented and your hearing can get back to normal with some quick solutions. Contacting us for a consultation can help you start this process, typically leading to successful treatments, so you can keep 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 may especially impact your ability to hear and understand voices and spoken language.

In many cases, and depending on the root cause, muffled hearing can be associated with a sense of fullness or stuffiness in your ears. Sometimes, when you’re on a plane or have a cold you might experience this feeling. This clogged feeling, however, doesn’t always come with muffled hearing.

What causes muffled hearing?

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

  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a long-term balance and hearing issue. 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.
  • Infection: In some cases, issues like infections (such as sinus infections or ear infections) can result in swelling in the ear canal (this is particularly true with ear infections). This swelling can cause your ear canal to be completely blocked, effectively reducing your ability to hear. Muffled hearing symptoms caused by infections will typically go away once the root illness has been treated.
  • Earwax buildup: Earwax is usually a helpful thing. It helps keep your ear canal healthy. However, excessive earwax can eventually cause muffled hearing (or even hearing loss). This earwax can usually be loosened up by utilizing a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. Do not make use of a cotton swab to attempt to free the earwax, as cotton swabs can condense your earwax and make the issue worse. If the issue continues, come in and talk to us.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: In some cases, muffled hearing can be the outcome of noise-related hearing loss. Regrettably, this type of hearing loss is normally irreversible. Muffled hearing is frequently one of the very first detectable symptoms; but damage to your stereocilia has usually already happened by the time you notice the distorted sounds. You should find treatment rapidly to avoid your hearing growing substantially worse quickly.
  • Hearing loss related to age: Most individuals will experience diminishing hearing as they get older. Needless to say, when you’re 80 all of your senses will be less sharp than when you were 18. Over time, muffled hearing can be the result of this natural diminishing of your ability to hear.
  • Travel: Altitude changes, like when you’re on a plane, can lead to a feeling of muffled ears. In most cases, this feeling will pass quickly and your normal hearing will be restored.

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

Is there a cure for muffled hearing?

Some types of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The treatment for your muffled hearing will change depending on the underlying cause. For instance, if excess earwax buildup is the principal cause, we may use specific tools to help you clear out your ear canal. Antibiotics are usually prescribed if your muffled hearing is being caused by an infection.

Symptom management is generally the strategy when you’re dealing with sensorineural hearing loss rather than a cure. That’s because sensorineural hearing loss can not be cured. However, symptoms can be managed. This might take several forms, but the most prevalent is the use of a pair of hearing aids in order to bring clarity to what you hear.

Hearing aids can help you remain connected to loved ones and go about your daily activities without a substantially noticeable effect, especially when this process is initiated quickly.

How to avoid muffled hearing in the first place

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

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