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. For the majority of people, it’s a short-term experience. In other cases, muffled hearing can be a harbinger of more serious hearing-related issues. That’s because, in general, hearing loss is a gradually progressing condition. Symptoms develop gradually over a long period of time.

One of the first symptoms of slowly progressing long-term hearing loss is the sense that your hearing is muffled. However, it’s important to point out that muffled hearing in and of itself is not always a sign of permanent hearing loss. Each year millions of individuals experience muffled hearing.

Maybe you’re wondering if you should be worried about your muffled hearing. Generally, the answer varies. Finding the proper treatment for your muffled hearing depends on understanding the root cause. Timely solutions can sometimes help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least reduce possible harm. 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.

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. A rather noticeable decline in sound quality is the result. Hearing won’t be completely gone with muffled hearing but things will sound garbled and quieter. This may particularly affect your ability to hear and understand voices and spoken language.

Your ears will frequently also feel plugged up when your hearing is muffled. Sometimes, when you’re taking a flight or suffering from a cold you may experience this feeling. Muffled hearing is not always accompanied by this feeling, however.

What causes muffled hearing?

Muffled hearing can be caused by all kinds of issues. Determining the root cause of your muffled hearing can be important in establishing an effective treatment plan. Some of the most prevalent causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Age-related hearing loss: Most individuals will experience diminishing hearing as they age. After all, there are few senses as acute when you are 80 as when you are 18. This normal decline in your hearing ability can cause muffled hearing over time.
  • Earwax buildup: Normally, earwax is a positive thing. The health of your ear canal depends on the production of earwax. However, excessive earwax can ultimately cause muffled hearing (or even hearing loss). This earwax can usually be loosened up by utilizing a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide. Do not use a cotton swab to try to dislodge the earwax, as cotton swabs can compact your earwax and make the issue worse. If the problem continues, come in and see us.
  • Infection: In some cases, problems like infections (including sinus infections or ear infections) can cause inflammation in the ear canal (this is especially true with ear infections). This will reduce your ability to hear by causing the ear canal to swell shut. Muffled hearing symptoms brought on by infections will typically clear up after the root illness has been dealt with.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a chronic balance and hearing problem. 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.
  • Travel: The changing air pressure associated with air travel can frequently cause a feeling of fullness in the ear, followed closely by muffled hearing. Your hearing will go back to normal fairly quickly once your physical conditions return to normal.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: In some cases, muffled hearing can be the outcome of noise-related hearing loss. Unfortunately, this type of hearing loss is normally irreversible. Muffled hearing is frequently one of the earliest noticeable symptoms; but damage to your stereocilia has likely already occurred by the time you detect the distorted sounds. If you don’t seek out treatment quickly, your hearing will rapidly get worse.

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

Is there a cure for muffled hearing?

Some forms of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The base cause of your muffled hearing will establish the treatment strategy. We may use some special tools to help clear 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 usually prescribed.

Symptom management is usually the strategy when you have sensorineural hearing loss as opposed to a cure. That’s because sensorineural hearing loss can not be cured. However, symptoms can be controlled. There may be several 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 impacting your quality of life.

Avoiding muffled hearing

No matter what you do, some forms of muffled hearing can’t be avoided. For example, ear infections and sinus infections are difficult to reliably avoid.

Getting your hearing tested, however, can help detect any causes of muffled hearing and can help prevent any long-term hearing loss that might be developing. Contact 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.