Causes of Muffled Hearing and Some Treatments

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. In most instances, this situation is short-term. In other cases, muffled hearing can be a harbinger of more significant hearing-related issues. That’s because, in general, hearing loss is a slowly developing condition. Symptoms appear gradually over a long time period.

One of the first symptoms of slowly advancing long-term hearing loss is the feeling that your hearing is muffled. However, it’s significant to point out that muffled hearing in and of itself isn’t always an indication of long-term hearing loss. Indeed, millions of people experience muffled hearing every year.

You may be wondering: when should I be concerned about muffled hearing? Generally, the answer tends to vary. Recognizing the root cause of your muffled hearing is critical to finding the right treatment approach. Timely solutions can sometimes help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least minimize possible damage. You will be able to go back to enjoying the sounds of your life after you get us to assist you with some successful treatments.

Muffled Hearing – what exactly is it?

When sound can’t move 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. In most instances, those with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but everything sounds quieter or distorted. This may particularly impact your ability to discern and understand voices and spoken language.

Your ears will frequently also feel clogged up when your hearing is muffled. Lots of people have experienced this feeling for a short time, for instance, when they have a cold or when they are flying. This plugged feeling, however, doesn’t always come along with muffled hearing.

Causes of muffled hearing

Muffled hearing can be caused by a wide variety of problems. Determining the underlying cause of your muffled hearing can be important in developing a successful treatment plan. Here are several of the most prevalent causes:

  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from persistent hearing and balance problems. Over time, this disease can cause tinnitus, loss of hearing (frequently starting with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be treated but not cured.
  • Earwax buildup: Normally, earwax is a positive thing. The health of your ear canal relies on the production of earwax. But muffled hearing (and in some cases even hearing loss) can be the consequence of too much earwax. This earwax can typically be loosened up by using a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. Never try to free stuck earwax by using a cotton swab which will only push the wax further up into the ear canal. We can help if the issue persists.
  • Infection: Sometimes, problems like infections (such as sinus infections or ear infections) can cause swelling in the ear canal (this is particularly true with ear infections). This swelling can cause your ear canal to be completely blocked, effectively decreasing your ability to hear. Muffled hearing symptoms brought on by infections will usually go away after the root illness has been treated.
  • Age-related hearing loss: As you get older, your hearing can decline as a result of natural causes. After all, there are few senses as sharp when you are 80 as they were when you are 18. This natural decline in your ability to hear can cause muffled hearing over time.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss which results from noise damage can sometimes cause muffled hearing. This type of hearing loss is, regrettably, usually permanent. One of the very first noticeable symptoms is muffled hearing; but damage to your stereocilia has usually already happened by the time you notice the distorted sounds. You should find treatment promptly to avoid your hearing growing substantially worse quickly.
  • Travel: Altitude changes, like when you’re on a plane, can cause a feeling of muffled ears. Your hearing will go back to normal fairly quickly once your physical conditions return to normal.

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

Is there a cure for muffled hearing?

Not all forms of muffled hearing can be cured. The treatment for your muffled hearing will differ depending on the root cause. For example, if excessive 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 usually clear up once the infection has been addressed, so antibiotics are often prescribed.

In terms of sensorineural hearing loss, the emphasis changes to symptom management rather than a complete cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. However, symptoms can be managed. This might take a number of forms, but the most prevalent is the use of a set of hearing aids so that you can bring clarity to what you hear.

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

How to steer clear of muffled hearing in the first place

No matter what you do, some forms of muffled hearing can’t be prevented. For instance, ear infections and sinus infections are hard to easily avoid.

Having your hearing tested, however, can help identify any causes of muffled hearing and can help prevent 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.