Hearing Health Blog

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. For most people, it’s a temporary experience. But muffled hearing can also be an indication that a more serious hearing issue is happening. Partly, that’s because, outside of sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is generally not a condition that develops suddenly. Symptoms progress slowly and over time.

In many cases, one of the first detectable symptoms is a sense that sounds feel muffled, distorted, or quieter. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t necessarily an indication that you’re developing permanent hearing loss. Every year millions of people experience muffled hearing.

You might be wondering: when do I need to be concerned about muffled hearing? Generally, the answer tends to vary. Finding the correct treatment for your muffled hearing depends on understanding the underlying cause. Additional damage can be prevented and your hearing can get back to normal with some prompt solutions. You will be able to get 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?

Muffled hearing occurs when sound is not able to move through your outer, middle, and inner ear in the way that it ordinarily does. This results in a noticeable drop in sound quality. In the majority of cases, people with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but things sound quieter or jumbled. Discerning speech and language can be especially difficult.

In many instances, 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 on a plane or have a cold you may experience this feeling. This plugged feeling, however, doesn’t always come with muffled hearing.

Causes of muffled hearing

There are lots of possible causes of muffled hearing. Determining the underlying cause of your muffled hearing can be essential in establishing an effective treatment plan. Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Travel: The changing air pressure related to air travel can frequently cause a plugged feeling in the ear, followed closely by muffled hearing. In most instances, this feeling will pass rapidly and your hearing will go back to normal.
  • Hearing loss related to age: As you get older, your hearing can decline due to natural causes. Obviously, 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 decline of your hearing.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss caused by noise damage can sometimes result in muffled hearing. This kind of hearing loss is, sadly, normally permanent. One of the first noticeable symptoms is muffled hearing; but damage to your stereocilia has usually already occurred by the time you detect the distorted sounds. If you don’t find treatment quickly, your hearing will rapidly get worse.
  • Earwax buildup: Earwax is usually a helpful thing. It helps keep your ear canal healthy. However, too much earwax can eventually cause muffled hearing (or even loss of hearing). This earwax can typically be loosened up by utilizing a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide. Never try to dislodge stuck earwax by using a cotton swab which will only pack the wax further up into the ear canal. If the problem persists, come in and see us.
  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from persistent hearing and balance problems. Over time, this disease can cause tinnitus, hearing loss (frequently starting with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be treated but not cured.
  • Infection: In some cases, issues 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 inflammation can cause your ear canal to swell shut, effectively reducing your ability to hear. Muffled hearing symptoms caused by infections will typically go away once the underlying illness has been dealt with.

The exact symptoms of muffled hearing will vary depending on the underlying cause.

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Not all forms of muffled hearing have a cure. The root cause of your muffled hearing will determine the treatment method. For instance, if excess earwax buildup is the primary cause, we may use specific tools to help you clear out your ear canal. Muffled hearing caused by an ear infection will typically clear up once the infection has been managed, so antibiotics are usually prescribed.

When it comes to sensorineural hearing loss, the emphasis changes to symptom management instead of a total cure. That’s because sensorineural hearing loss can’t be cured. However, symptoms can be managed. This may take a number of forms, but the most common is the use of a set of hearing aids in order to bring clarity to what you hear.

Hearing aids can help you stay connected to loved ones and tackle your daily activities without a significantly noticeable effect, especially when this process is initiated quickly.

Avoiding muffled hearing

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

However, in most instances, regular hearing tests can help you steer clear of many of the causes of muffled hearing and detect any permanent hearing loss early. These examinations can help you stay on top of your hearing health and get treatment quickly.

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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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