Muffled Hearing: Causes and Treatment Options

Woman in pain for tinnitus, sound and noise problem. Healthcare, pressure and hearing loss with girl suffering with muffled hearing.

There are a wide variety of reasons for muffled hearing. In most instances, this situation is temporary. In other cases, muffled hearing can be a precursor of more significant hearing-related problems. In part, that’s because, aside from sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is typically not a condition that progresses suddenly. Symptoms appear slowly over a long time period.

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 are developing long-term hearing loss. Indeed, millions of individuals experience muffled hearing each year.

You might be wondering: when do I need to be concerned about muffled hearing? Generally, the answer varies. Recognizing the root cause of your muffled hearing is crucial to finding the best treatment approach. Additional damage can be avoided and your hearing can get back to normal with some prompt solutions. You will be able to go back to enjoying the sounds of your life after you get us to help you with some successful treatments.

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 drop in sound quality. Hearing won’t be completely gone with muffled hearing but things will sound distorted and quieter. This may especially impact your ability to discern and understand voices and spoken language.

In many instances, and depending on the root cause, muffled hearing can be accompanied by a sense of fullness or stuffiness in your ears. Sometimes, when you’re taking a flight or have a cold you might experience this feeling. This plugged feeling, however, doesn’t always come along with muffled hearing.

What causes muffled hearing?

Muffled hearing can be caused by a wide variety of issues. In order to formulate the appropriate course of treatment, it’s essential to establish the root cause. Some of the most prevalent causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Travel: The changing air pressure associated with air travel can frequently cause a plugged feeling in the ear, followed closely by muffled hearing. In most cases, this feeling will go away quickly and your hearing will go back to normal.
  • Earwax buildup: Normally, earwax is a good thing. It helps keep your ear canal healthy. However, excessive earwax can ultimately cause muffled hearing (or even hearing loss). This earwax can usually be loosened up by utilizing a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. Never attempt to free stuck earwax by using a cotton swab which will only push the wax further up into the ear canal. If the issue lingers, come in and see us.
  • Hearing loss related to age: Most people 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 normal diminishing of your ability to hear.
  • Infection: In some cases, problems such as infections (such as sinus infections or ear infections) can cause swelling in the ear canal (this is particularly true with ear infections). This will reduce your hearing ability by causing the ear canal to swell shut. Once the root infection clears, any swelling it caused should also clear.
  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from persistent hearing and balance issues. Over time, this disease can cause 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.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss which results from noise-related damage can sometimes bring about muffled hearing. Sadly, this type of hearing loss is normally permanent. One of the very first noticeable symptoms is muffled hearing; but damage to your stereocilia has usually already occurred by the time you detect the distorted sounds. You should seek out treatment rapidly to avoid your hearing getting considerably worse quickly.

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

Is there a cure for muffled hearing?

Not all kinds of muffled hearing can be cured. The root cause of your muffled hearing will establish the treatment strategy. We might use some specialized tools to help clean out your ear canal if, for example, earwax accumulation is at the root of your muffled hearing. Muffled hearing caused by an ear infection will usually clear up once the infection has been treated, so antibiotics are frequently prescribed.

When it comes to sensorineural hearing loss, the focus changes to symptom management rather than a complete cure. That’s because sensorineural hearing loss can not be reversed. But it is possible to manage symptoms. This might take several forms, but the most prevalent is the use of a pair 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 effecting your quality of life.

How to steer clear of muffled hearing in the first place

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


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