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 present for a large number of reasons. For the majority of people, it’s a short-term situation. But muffled hearing can also be an indication that a more serious hearing problem is taking place. In part, that’s because, outside of sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is typically not a condition that develops suddenly. Symptoms show up gradually over a long time period.

Often, one of the first recognizable symptoms is a sense that sounds feel muffled, distorted, or quieter. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t necessarily an indication that you are developing long-term hearing loss. Every year millions of people experience muffled hearing.

Maybe you’re wondering if you should be worried about your muffled hearing. The answer depends on a number of factors. Understanding the root cause of your muffled hearing is critical to finding the right treatment plan. Additional damage can be prevented and your hearing can get back to normal with some prompt solutions. You will be able to go 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?

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 decrease in sound quality. In most instances, individuals with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but everything sounds quieter or jumbled. This may particularly impact your ability to hear and understand voices and spoken language.

Your ears will often also feel plugged up when your hearing is muffled. Lots of people have experienced this feeling for a short time, for instance, when they have a cold or are taking a flight. Muffled hearing is not always associated with this feeling, however.

Causes of muffled hearing

There are lots of possible causes of muffled hearing. Figuring out the root cause of your muffled hearing can be significant in developing a successful treatment plan. Some of the most prevalent causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss caused by noise-related damage can sometimes result in muffled hearing. This form of hearing loss is, unfortunately, 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 happened. If you don’t find treatment quickly, your hearing will rapidly get worse.
  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from chronic hearing and balance issues. Dizziness, balance issues, tinnitus, and muffled ears will develop over time as a result of 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 cause swelling in the ear canal (this is especially true with ear infections). This inflammation can cause your ear canal to swell shut, effectively reducing your ability to hear. Once the base infection goes away, any swelling it caused should also clear.
  • Earwax buildup: Usually, earwax is a positive thing. It helps keep your ear canal healthy. However, too much earwax can ultimately cause muffled hearing (or even hearing loss). This earwax can typically be loosened up by using a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide. Do not make use of a cotton swab to try to free the earwax, as cotton swabs can compact your earwax and make the issue worse. We can help if the problem continues.
  • Hearing loss associated with age: As you get older, your hearing can decline due to natural causes. After all, there are few senses as acute when you are 80 as they were when you are 18. Over time, muffled hearing can be the outcome of this natural diminishing of your ability to hear.
  • Travel: The changing air pressure related to air travel can often cause a plugged feeling in the ear, accompanied by muffled hearing. In most instances, this feeling will pass quickly and your hearing will go back to normal.

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

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Some forms of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The base cause of your muffled hearing will determine the treatment method. We may use some specialized tools to help clean out your ear canal if, for instance, 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 addressed, so antibiotics are usually prescribed.

When it comes to sensorineural hearing loss, the emphasis changes to symptom management rather than a complete cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. But it is possible to control symptoms. This might take several forms, but the most common is using a pair of hearing aids so that you can bring clarity to what you hear.

Hearing aids can help you stay connected to loved ones and go about your day-to-day activities without a significantly noticeable impact, particularly when this process is initiated promptly.

How to steer clear of muffled hearing in the first place

No matter what you do, certain forms of muffled hearing can’t be prevented. For instance, ear infections and sinus infections are hard to easily avoid.

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