Causes of Muffled Hearing and Some Remedies

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 a wide variety of reasons. In the majority of instances, this situation is temporary. But muffled hearing can also be an indication that a more serious hearing problem is taking place. That’s because, in general, hearing loss is a slowly progressing condition. Symptoms develop gradually over a long time period.

One of the first symptoms of slowly progressing long-term hearing loss is the feeling that your hearing is muffled. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t always an indication that you’re developing permanent hearing loss. Indeed, millions of individuals experience muffled hearing each year.

You might be wondering: when do I need to be worried about muffled hearing? The answer depends on several factors. Recognizing the root cause of your muffled hearing is crucial to finding the right treatment strategy. Timely solutions can sometimes help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least reduce 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 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. In most instances, individuals with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but everything sounds quieter or jumbled. Hearing speech and language can be especially tough.

In many instances, and depending on the root cause, muffled hearing can be associated with a sense of fullness or stuffiness in your ears. Lots of people have experienced this feeling temporarily, for instance, when they have a cold or when they are taking a flight. This plugged feeling, however, doesn’t always come along with muffled hearing.

Causes of muffled hearing

There are lots of possible causes of muffled hearing. In order to develop the correct course of treatment, it’s important to figure out the root cause. Some of the most prevalent causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Hearing loss related to age: As you age, your hearing can decline due to natural causes. After all, there are few senses as sharp when you are 80 as they were when you are 18. Over time, muffled hearing can be the result of this natural decline of your ability to hear.
  • Infection: Sometimes, problems like infections (including sinus infections or ear infections) can result in inflammation in the ear canal (this is particularly true with ear infections). This will diminish your ability to hear by causing the ear canal to swell shut. Muffled hearing symptoms caused by infections will normally clear up after the underlying illness has been treated.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss which results from noise-related damage can sometimes cause muffled hearing. This type of hearing loss is, regrettably, normally permanent. One of the earliest recognizable symptoms is muffled hearing; but damage to your stereocilia has likely already happened by the time you detect the distorted sounds. If you don’t seek out treatment quickly, your hearing will rapidly get worse.
  • Earwax buildup: Usually, earwax is a good 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). Try a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen things up. Do not make use of a cotton swab to attempt to free the earwax, as cotton swabs can compact your earwax and make the issue worse. We can help if the problem continues.
  • Travel: The changing air pressure associated with air travel can often cause a feeling of fullness in the ear, accompanied by muffled hearing. In most instances, this feeling will go away rapidly and your hearing will go back to normal.
  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from chronic hearing and balance problems. Dizziness, balance problems, 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 treated.

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

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Some forms of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The underlying cause of your muffled hearing will determine the treatment strategy. We might use some special tools to help clean out your ear canal if, for instance, earwax accumulation is at the root of your muffled hearing. Antibiotics are typically prescribed if your muffled hearing is being caused by an infection.

In terms of 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 controlled. There may be several strategies to this treatment including a pair of hearing aids.

With hearing aids, you can continue to enjoy your daily activities without hearing loss impacting your quality of life.

How to steer clear of muffled hearing in the first place

Some types of muffled hearing are difficult to avoid, no matter what. 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 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.