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 serious hearing-related issues. Partly, that’s because, aside from sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is typically not a condition that progresses suddenly. Symptoms build gradually and over time.

One of the earliest symptoms of slowly developing long-term hearing loss is the sense that your hearing is muffled. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t necessarily a sign that you’re 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? The answer depends on several factors. Finding the best treatment for your muffled hearing depends on recognizing the root cause. Timely solutions can in some cases help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least minimize possible damage. Calling us for a consultation can help you begin this process, often resulting in successful treatments, so you can continue enjoying the sounds of your day-to-day life.

Muffled Hearing – what exactly is it?

Muffled hearing occurs when sound is unable to travel through your outer, middle, and inner ear in the way that it ordinarily does. This leads to a noticeable decrease in sound quality. Hearing won’t be entirely gone with muffled hearing but things will sound garbled and quieter. This might particularly impact your ability to discern and understand voices and spoken language.

In many cases, and depending on the underlying cause, muffled hearing can be accompanied by a sense of fullness or stuffiness in your ears. Sometimes, when you’re on a plane or suffering from 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 problems. In order to develop the appropriate course of treatment, it’s important to establish the root cause. Here are several of the most common causes:

  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a long-term balance and hearing problem. Dizziness, balance issues, tinnitus, and muffled ears will develop over time as a result of this disease. There is no cure for Meniere’s Disease, but symptoms can be managed.
  • Earwax buildup: Earwax is generally a helpful thing. It helps keep your ear canal healthy. But muffled hearing (and in some circumstances even hearing loss) can be the consequence of too much earwax. 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 issue continues.
  • Travel: Altitude changes, such as when you’re on a plane, can lead to a feeling of muffled ears. Your hearing will go back to normal rather quickly once your physical conditions return to normal.
  • Infection: Swelling of the ear canal will often come with problems such as ear infections or sinus infections. This will reduce your hearing ability by causing the ear canal to swell shut. Muffled hearing symptoms caused by infections will typically clear up after the underlying illness has been treated.
  • Hearing loss related to age: Most individuals will experience decreasing hearing as they age. 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 consequence of this normal diminishing of your ability to hear.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Sometimes, muffled hearing can be the consequence of noise-related hearing loss. This form of hearing loss is, regrettably, generally permanent. Muffled hearing is frequently one of the earliest detectable symptoms; but by the time you detect the distorted sounds, damage to your stereocilia has most likely already taken place. If you don’t find treatment quickly, your hearing will rapidly get worse.

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

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Not all forms of muffled hearing have a cure. The underlying cause of your muffled hearing will determine the treatment method. For instance, if excessive earwax buildup is the principal cause, we may use specific tools to help you clean out your ear canal. Muffled hearing caused by an ear infection will typically clear up once the infection has been addressed, 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 there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. However, symptoms can be managed. There might be numerous strategies to this treatment including a pair of hearing aids.

With hearing aids, you can continue to enjoy your day-to-day activities without hearing loss effecting your quality of life.

Avoiding muffled hearing

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

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