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 an indication that a more serious hearing issue is happening. In part, that’s because, aside from sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is typically not a condition that develops suddenly. Symptoms develop slowly and over time.

One of the first symptoms of gradually developing long-term hearing loss is the sense that your hearing is muffled. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t always an indication that you’re developing permanent hearing loss. Each year millions of people experience muffled hearing.

You may be wondering: when should I be worried about muffled hearing? Generally, the answer varies. Recognizing the root cause of your muffled hearing is critical to finding the correct treatment approach. Added damage can be avoided and your hearing can get back to normal with some prompt solutions. Contacting us for a consultation can help you begin this process, typically leading to successful treatments, so you can keep enjoying the sounds of your day-to-day 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. A rather noticeable decrease in sound fidelity is the outcome. In most cases, those with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but things sound quieter or jumbled. Discerning speech and language can be particularly challenging.

In many instances, and depending on the underlying 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 may experience this feeling. This clogged feeling, however, doesn’t always come with muffled hearing.

Causes of muffled hearing

There are lots of potential causes of muffled hearing. Identifying the root cause of your muffled hearing can be essential in establishing an effective treatment plan. Some of the most prevalent causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a long-term balance and hearing problem. Over time, this disease can trigger tinnitus, hearing loss (often beginning with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be treated but not cured.
  • Earwax buildup: Usually, earwax is a good thing. It helps keep your ear canal healthy. But muffled hearing (and in some circumstances even hearing loss) can be the consequence of excess earwax. This earwax can usually be loosened up by utilizing a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide. Do not use a cotton swab to attempt to free the earwax, as cotton swabs can condense your earwax and make the problem worse. We can help if the issue continues.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss which results from noise damage can sometimes cause muffled hearing. This kind of hearing loss is, sadly, usually permanent. Muffled hearing is often one of the very first noticeable symptoms; but damage to your stereocilia has usually already occurred by the time you detect the distorted sounds. You should seek out treatment promptly to avoid your hearing growing substantially worse quickly.
  • Hearing loss related to age: Most individuals will experience diminishing hearing as they age. 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 outcome of this natural decline of your hearing.
  • Travel: Altitude changes, such as 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.
  • Infection: Swelling of the ear canal will often accompany problems like ear infections or sinus infections. This inflammation can cause your ear canal to swell shut, effectively decreasing your ability to hear. Once the base infection goes away, any swelling it caused should also clear.

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

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Not all forms of muffled hearing have a cure. The base cause of your muffled hearing will determine the treatment strategy. For example, if excessive earwax buildup is the principal cause, we may use specific tools to help you clean out your ear canal. Antibiotics are typically prescribed if your muffled hearing is being caused by an infection.

When it comes to sensorineural hearing loss, the emphasis changes to symptom management as opposed to a total cure. That’s because sensorineural hearing loss can not be reversed. But it is possible to control symptoms. There may be several strategies to this treatment including a pair of hearing aids.

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

Avoiding muffled hearing

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

Getting your hearing tested, however, can help detect any causes of muffled hearing and can help avoid any long-term hearing loss that might 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.