Muffled Hearing: Causes and Solutions

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 the majority of cases, this condition is short-term. But muffled hearing can also be an indication that a more severe hearing issue is happening. That’s because, in general, hearing loss is a gradually developing condition. Symptoms progress slowly and over time.

In many cases, one of the first recognizable symptoms is a sense that sounds feel muffled, distorted, or quieter. However, it’s essential to point out that muffled hearing in and of itself isn’t always an indication of permanent hearing loss. Indeed, millions of individuals experience muffled hearing each year.

You may be wondering: when should I be concerned about muffled hearing? Generally, the answer tends to vary. Finding the right treatment for your muffled hearing depends on understanding the root cause. 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 continue enjoying the sounds of your day-to-day life.

What is muffled hearing?

Muffled hearing happens when sound is not able to travel through your outer, middle, and inner ear in the way that it ordinarily does. A rather noticeable decrease in sound fidelity is the outcome. In the majority of instances, individuals with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but everything sounds quieter or jumbled. Discerning speech and language can be especially tough.

Your ears will frequently also feel clogged up when your hearing is muffled. Lots of individuals have experienced this feeling for a short time, for example, when they have a cold or are taking a flight. 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. Figuring out the root cause of your muffled hearing can be significant in establishing an effective treatment plan. Some of the most prevalent causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss which results from noise damage can sometimes bring about muffled hearing. Unfortunately, this kind of hearing loss is normally irreversible. Muffled hearing is frequently one of the very first noticeable symptoms; but by the time you notice the distorted sounds, damage to your stereocilia has likely already occurred. You should find treatment rapidly 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 rather quickly once your physical conditions return to normal.
  • Hearing loss associated with 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 acute than when you were 18. This normal decline in your hearing ability can cause muffled hearing over time.
  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from persistent hearing and balance issues. Over time, this disease can cause tinnitus, loss of hearing (frequently beginning with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. There is no cure for Meniere’s Disease, but symptoms can be managed.
  • 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 loss of hearing). Try a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen the wax up. Do not make use of a cotton swab to try to dislodge the earwax, as cotton swabs can condense your earwax and make the issue worse. We can help if the problem continues.
  • Infection: In some cases, issues such as infections (such as sinus infections or ear infections) can result in swelling in the ear canal (this is particularly true with ear infections). This inflammation can cause your ear canal to be completely blocked, effectively decreasing your ability to hear. Once the root infection goes away, any inflammation it caused should also clear.

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

Is there a cure for muffled hearing?

Not all kinds of muffled hearing can be cured. The underlying cause of your muffled hearing will determine the treatment strategy. For example, if excessive earwax buildup is the primary cause, we might use specific tools to help you clean out your ear canal. Muffled hearing caused by an ear infection will likely clear up once the infection has been addressed, so antibiotics are often prescribed.

In terms of sensorineural hearing loss, the focus changes to symptom management rather than a total 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 common is using 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 avoid muffled hearing in the first place

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

However, in most cases, regular hearing tests can help you avoid many of the causes of muffled hearing and identify any permanent hearing loss early. 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.