Causes of Muffled Hearing and Some Solutions

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 people, it’s a temporary experience. In other cases, muffled hearing can be a harbinger of more significant hearing-related problems. That’s because, in general, hearing loss is a gradually developing condition. Symptoms build slowly and over time.

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

You might be wondering: when do I need to be concerned about muffled hearing? Generally, the answer varies. Finding the proper treatment for your muffled hearing depends on recognizing the root cause. Additional damage can be avoided and your hearing can get back to normal with some quick solutions. Calling 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?

When sound can’t move through your outer, middle, and inner ear in a normal way, your hearing can sound muffled. This leads to a noticeable decrease in sound quality. In most cases, people with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but everything sounds quieter or distorted. Discerning speech and language can be particularly difficult.

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 taking a flight or suffering from a cold you may experience this feeling. Muffled hearing isn’t always associated with this feeling, however.

Causes of muffled hearing

Muffled hearing can be caused by all kinds of issues. Identifying the root cause of your muffled hearing can be significant in developing a successful treatment plan. Here are a few of the most prevalent causes:

  • 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 develop over time as a result of this disease. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be treated but not cured.
  • Infection: Sometimes, issues such as 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. Muffled hearing symptoms due to infections will normally clear up after the underlying illness has been treated.
  • Earwax buildup: Normally, earwax is a positive thing. The health of your ear canal depends on the production of earwax. However, too much earwax can eventually cause muffled hearing (or even loss of hearing). Try a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen the wax up. Never attempt to free stuck earwax by using a cotton swab which will only pack the wax further up into the ear canal. If the issue continues, come in and see us.
  • Hearing loss associated with age: Most individuals will experience diminishing hearing as they get older. Obviously, when you’re 80 all of your senses will be less acute than when you were 18. Over time, muffled hearing can be the outcome of this normal diminishing of your hearing.
  • Travel: The changing air pressure associated with air travel can often cause a feeling of fullness in the ear, accompanied by muffled hearing. Your hearing will go back to normal fairly quickly once your physical conditions return to normal.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: In some cases, muffled hearing can be the outcome of noise-related hearing loss. Sadly, this kind of hearing loss is usually permanent. Muffled hearing is frequently one of the very first detectable symptoms; but by the time you detect the distorted sounds, damage to your stereocilia has most likely already occurred. You should seek out treatment promptly to avoid your hearing getting significantly worse quickly.

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

Is there a cure for muffled hearing?

Not all forms of muffled hearing have a cure. The treatment for your muffled hearing will change depending on the root cause. We may use some specialized tools to help clean out your ear canal if, for example, earwax buildup is at the root of your muffled hearing. Muffled hearing caused by an ear infection will typically clear up once the infection has been addressed, so antibiotics are frequently prescribed.

Symptom management is usually the approach when you’re dealing with sensorineural hearing loss as opposed to a cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. But it is possible to control symptoms. There may be numerous strategies to this treatment including a pair of hearing aids.

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

Avoiding muffled hearing

Some forms of muffled hearing are hard to avoid, no matter what. Infections, for instance, can’t always be avoided.

Having your hearing tested, however, can help detect any causes of muffled hearing and can help prevent any long-term hearing loss that might be developing. These checkups can help you stay on top of your hearing health and get treatment quickly.

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.