Hearing Health Blog

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 individuals, it’s a short-term situation. But muffled hearing can also be an indication that a more serious hearing issue is happening. That’s because, for the most part, hearing loss is a gradually developing condition. Symptoms show up slowly over a long time period.

One of the earliest symptoms of gradually developing long-term hearing loss is the feeling that your hearing is muffled. However, it’s important to point out that muffled hearing in and of itself isn’t always a sign of long-term hearing loss. Each year millions of individuals experience muffled hearing.

Maybe you’re wondering if you should be concerned about your muffled hearing. The answer depends on several factors. Understanding the root cause of your muffled hearing is crucial to finding the best treatment approach. Additional damage can be avoided and your hearing can get back to normal with some quick solutions. Contacting us for a consultation can help you start this process, typically resulting in successful treatments, so you can keep enjoying the sounds of your day-to-day life.

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 results in a noticeable decrease in sound quality. Hearing won’t be entirely gone with muffled hearing but things will sound garbled and quieter. Hearing speech and language can be especially challenging.

In many cases, and depending on the root cause, muffled hearing can be accompanied by a sense of fullness or stuffiness in your ears. Sometimes, when you’re taking a flight or have a cold you might experience this feeling. Muffled hearing is not always associated with this feeling, however.

Causes of muffled hearing

Muffled hearing can be caused by all kinds of issues. In order to develop the suitable course of treatment, it’s essential to figure out the root cause. Here are a few of the most prevalent causes:

  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss caused by noise-related damage can sometimes result in muffled hearing. This form of hearing loss is, unfortunately, normally irreversible. Muffled hearing is frequently one of the first noticeable symptoms; but damage to your stereocilia has likely already happened by the time you notice the distorted sounds. You should find treatment rapidly to avoid your hearing growing significantly worse quickly.
  • 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 rather quickly once your physical conditions return to normal.
  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from persistent hearing and balance problems. Over time, this disease can cause tinnitus, hearing loss (often starting with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. There’s no cure for Meniere’s Disease, but symptoms can be managed.
  • Age-related hearing loss: Most people will experience diminishing hearing as they get older. 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.
  • Infection: Swelling of the ear canal will frequently accompany issues like ear infections or sinus infections. This swelling can cause your ear canal to be completely blocked, effectively decreasing your ability to hear. Muffled hearing symptoms caused by infections will normally clear up once the root illness has been dealt with.
  • Earwax buildup: Usually, earwax is a positive thing. It helps keep your ear canal healthy. But muffled hearing (and in some circumstances even hearing loss) can be the result of excess earwax. Try a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen the wax up. Never try to dislodge stuck earwax with a cotton swab which will only pack the wax further up into the ear canal. If the issue lingers, come in and talk to us.

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

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Some types of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The base cause of your muffled hearing will establish the treatment method. We might use some special tools to help clear out your ear canal if, for example, earwax buildup is at the root of your muffled hearing. Muffled hearing caused by an ear infection will usually clear up once the infection has been addressed, so antibiotics are frequently prescribed.

When it comes to sensorineural hearing loss, the emphasis changes to symptom management instead of a complete cure. That’s because sensorineural hearing loss can’t be reversed. But it is possible to control symptoms. This may take several forms, but the most common is using a pair of hearing aids in order to 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, especially when this process is started promptly.

Avoiding muffled hearing

Some forms of muffled hearing are difficult to avoid, no matter what. For example, ear infections and sinus infections are hard to easily avoid.

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

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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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