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. In most instances, this situation is short-term. In other cases, muffled hearing can be a precursor of more significant hearing-related problems. Partly, that’s because, aside from sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is typically not a condition that develops suddenly. Symptoms build gradually and over time.

Often, one of the first noticeable symptoms is a sense that sounds feel muffled, distorted, or quieter. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t necessarily a sign that you’re developing permanent hearing loss. Each year millions of people experience muffled hearing.

You may be wondering: when should I be concerned about muffled hearing? The answer depends on several factors. Understanding the root cause of your muffled hearing is crucial to finding the correct treatment plan. 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, often leading to successful treatments, so you can continue enjoying the sounds of your day-to-day life.

Muffled Hearing – what exactly is it?

Muffled hearing happens when sound is not able to move through your outer, middle, and inner ear in the way that it normally does. A very noticeable reduction in sound quality is the result. In most cases, people with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but things sound quieter or jumbled. Hearing speech and language can be especially tough.

In many instances, and depending on the underlying cause, muffled hearing can be combined with a sense of fullness or stuffiness in your ears. Sometimes, when you’re taking a flight or suffering from a cold you might experience this feeling. This clogged feeling, however, doesn’t always come along with muffled hearing.

Causes of muffled hearing

Muffled hearing can be caused by a wide variety of problems. Figuring out the root cause of your muffled hearing can be significant in developing a successful treatment plan. Some of the most common causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Age-associated hearing loss: Most people will experience decreasing hearing as they get older. Needless to say, when you’re 80 all of your senses will be less sharp than when you were 18. Over time, muffled hearing can be the consequence of this normal decline of your hearing.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: In some cases, muffled hearing can be the consequence of noise-related hearing loss. Sadly, this kind of hearing loss is usually permanent. Muffled hearing is often one of the earliest detectable symptoms; 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.
  • Travel: The changing air pressure related to air travel can frequently cause a feeling of fullness in the ear, followed closely by muffled hearing. In most instances, this feeling will pass rapidly and your normal hearing will be restored.
  • Infection: Sometimes, issues such as infections (such as sinus infections or ear infections) can cause inflammation in the ear canal (this is particularly true with ear 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 go away once the underlying illness has been dealt with.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a long-term balance and hearing problem. Dizziness, balance problems, tinnitus, and muffled ears will develop over time as a result of this disease. There’s no cure for Meniere’s Disease, but symptoms can be managed.
  • Earwax buildup: Earwax is generally a helpful thing. The health of your ear canal relies on the generation of earwax. But muffled hearing (and in some cases even hearing loss) can be the consequence of excess earwax. Try a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen the wax up. Never attempt to free stuck earwax with a cotton swab which will only pack the wax further up into the ear canal. We can help if the problem persists.

The exact symptoms of muffled hearing will differ depending on the base cause.

Is there a cure for muffled hearing?

Some types of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The underlying cause of your muffled hearing will establish the treatment strategy. We may 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 usually clear up once the infection has been managed, so antibiotics are often prescribed.

Symptom management is usually the approach when you have sensorineural hearing loss as opposed to a cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. However, symptoms can be managed. There may be numerous strategies to this treatment including a pair of hearing aids.

With hearing aids, you can continue to enjoy your day-to-day activities without hearing loss effecting your quality of life.

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.

Having your hearing examined, however, can help detect any causes of muffled hearing and can help avoid any long-term hearing loss that might be developing. These examinations 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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