Causes of Muffled Hearing and Some Treatments

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

There are a large number of reasons for muffled hearing. For most people, it’s a short-term situation. But muffled hearing can also be a sign that a more severe hearing issue is taking place. That’s because, for the most part, hearing loss is a gradually progressing condition. Symptoms develop slowly over a long period of time.

Typically, one of the first detectable symptoms is a sense that sounds feel muffled, distorted, or quieter. However, it’s essential to mention that muffled hearing in and of itself isn’t always an indication of long-term hearing loss. Every year millions of individuals experience muffled hearing.

Perhaps you’re wondering if you should be concerned about your muffled hearing. The answer depends on several factors. Finding the proper treatment for your muffled hearing depends on recognizing the root cause. Prompt 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 leading to successful treatments, so you can keep enjoying the sounds of your everyday life.

What is muffled hearing?

When sound can’t travel 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. In the majority of cases, people with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but things sound quieter or jumbled. This might particularly affect your ability to discern and understand voices and spoken language.

Your ears will often also feel clogged up when your hearing is muffled. Many people have experienced this feeling for a short time, for example, when they have a cold or when they are taking a flight. This plugged feeling, however, doesn’t always come with muffled hearing.

Causes of muffled hearing

Muffled hearing can be caused by a wide variety of issues. Determining the underlying cause of your muffled hearing can be significant in developing an effective treatment plan. Some of the most prevalent causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Earwax buildup: Earwax is generally 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 using a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide. Do not use a cotton swab to attempt to dislodge the earwax, as cotton swabs can condense your earwax and make the problem worse. We can help if the problem persists.
  • Hearing loss related to age: Most people will experience diminishing hearing as they get older. After all, there are few senses as acute when you are 80 as when you are 18. Over time, muffled hearing can be the consequence of this normal diminishing of your ability to hear.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss caused by noise damage can sometimes bring about muffled hearing. Sadly, this kind of hearing loss is usually irreversible. One of the first noticeable symptoms is muffled hearing; but by the time you detect the distorted sounds, damage to your stereocilia has probably already occurred. You should seek out treatment promptly to avoid your hearing getting considerably worse quickly.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a chronic balance and hearing issue. Dizziness, balance issues, tinnitus, and muffled ears will manifest over time due to this disease. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be managed but not cured.
  • Infection: Sometimes, problems like infections (including sinus infections or ear infections) can result in swelling in the ear canal (this is especially true with ear infections). This swelling can cause your ear canal to be completely blocked, effectively diminishing your ability to hear. Once the underlying infection clears, any inflammation it caused should also clear.
  • Travel: The changing air pressure associated with air travel can frequently cause a plugged feeling in the ear, followed closely by muffled hearing. Your hearing will go back to normal relatively quickly once your physical conditions return to normal.

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

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Some forms of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The treatment for your muffled hearing will change depending on the root cause. We might use some specialized 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 likely clear up once the infection has been managed, so antibiotics are frequently 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. But it is possible to manage symptoms. This may take several forms, but the most common is the use of a pair of hearing aids in order to bring clarity to what you hear.

Hearing aids can help you remain connected to loved ones and go about your daily activities without a substantially noticeable effect, particularly when this process is initiated quickly.

Avoiding muffled hearing

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

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

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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