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.

Muffled hearing can happen for lots of reasons. For most individuals, it’s a temporary experience. In other cases, muffled hearing can be a precursor of more substantial hearing-related issues. Partly, that’s because, aside from sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is typically not a condition that develops suddenly. Symptoms develop gradually and over time.

Typically, one of the first noticeable 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. Indeed, millions of people experience muffled hearing every year.

You may be wondering: when do I need to be worried about muffled hearing? Generally, the answer varies. Finding the best treatment for your muffled hearing depends on understanding the underlying cause. Timely solutions can sometimes help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least minimize possible damage. You will be able to get back to enjoying the sounds of your life after you get us to help you with some successful treatments.

What is muffled hearing?

When sound can’t move 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 most cases, individuals with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but everything sounds quieter or jumbled. This might especially affect your ability to discern and understand voices and spoken language.

Your ears will often also feel plugged up when your hearing is muffled. Many people have experienced this feeling for a short time, for instance, when they have a cold or are flying. Muffled hearing is not always accompanied by this feeling, however.

What causes muffled hearing?

Muffled hearing can be caused by a wide variety of issues. In order to formulate the suitable course of treatment, it’s essential to determine the root cause. Some of the most prevalent causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Travel: The changing air pressure associated with air travel can frequently cause a plugged feeling in the ear, accompanied by muffled hearing. In most cases, this feeling will go away rapidly and your hearing will go back to normal.
  • 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 hearing loss). This earwax can usually be loosened up by utilizing a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide. Never attempt to dislodge stuck earwax by using a cotton swab which will only pack the wax further up into the ear canal. We can help if the issue persists.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a chronic balance and hearing issue. Dizziness, balance issues, tinnitus, and muffled ears will manifest over time because of this disease. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be treated but not cured.
  • Hearing loss associated with age: As you age, your hearing can decline as a result of natural causes. 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 decline of your ability to hear.
  • Infection: Inflammation of the ear canal will often accompany issues like ear infections or sinus infections. This swelling can cause your ear canal to swell shut, effectively diminishing your ability to hear. Once the root infection clears, any inflammation it caused should also clear.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Sometimes, muffled hearing can be the outcome of noise-related hearing loss. Unfortunately, this form of hearing loss is usually irreversible. Muffled hearing is often one of the first noticeable symptoms; but damage to your stereocilia has likely already occurred by the time you detect the distorted sounds. You should find treatment rapidly to avoid your hearing getting significantly worse quickly.

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

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Not all forms of muffled hearing can be cured. The underlying cause of your muffled hearing will determine the treatment strategy. We might use some specialized tools to help clean out your ear canal if, for instance, earwax buildup 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 as opposed to 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.

Hearing aids can help you remain connected to loved ones and go about your day-to-day activities without a significantly noticeable impact, especially when this process is started quickly.

Avoiding muffled hearing

No matter what you do, some forms of muffled hearing can’t be avoided. Infections, for instance, can’t always be avoided.

However, in most cases, routine 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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