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 most cases, this situation is temporary. But muffled hearing can also be a sign that a more serious hearing problem is taking place. That’s because, for the most part, hearing loss is a slowly progressing condition. Symptoms develop gradually over a long period of time.

One of the earliest symptoms of slowly advancing long-term hearing loss is the feeling that your hearing is muffled. However, it’s important to mention 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.

You might be wondering: when should I be concerned about muffled hearing? Generally, the answer tends to vary. Finding the correct treatment for your muffled hearing depends on understanding the underlying cause. Prompt solutions can in some cases help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least reduce possible harm. Calling us for a consultation can help you start this process, typically resulting in successful treatments, so you can continue enjoying the sounds of your everyday 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. A very noticeable decrease in sound quality is the result. Hearing won’t be entirely gone with muffled hearing but things will sound distorted and quieter. This may particularly impact your ability to hear and understand voices and spoken language.

In many cases, and depending on the underlying cause, muffled hearing can be combined with a sense of fullness or stuffiness in your ears. Lots of individuals have experienced this feeling temporarily, for example, when they have a cold or when they are flying. Muffled hearing is not always accompanied by this feeling, however.

Causes of muffled hearing

There are a lot of possible causes of muffled hearing. Figuring out the underlying cause of your muffled hearing can be important in developing a successful treatment plan. Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Infection: In some cases, issues like infections (such as sinus infections or ear infections) can cause swelling in the ear canal (this is especially true with ear infections). This will decrease your hearing ability by causing the ear canal to swell shut. Once the root infection clears, any swelling it caused should also clear.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Sometimes, muffled hearing can be the outcome of noise-related hearing loss. Sadly, this form of hearing loss is normally permanent. Muffled hearing is frequently one of the very first detectable symptoms; but by the time you notice the distorted sounds, damage to your stereocilia has most likely already taken place. You should seek out treatment promptly to avoid your hearing growing significantly worse quickly.
  • Age-associated hearing loss: Most people will experience decreasing hearing as they age. After all, there are few senses as acute when you are 80 as they were when you are 18. This normal diminishing in your ability to hear can cause muffled hearing over time.
  • Travel: The changing altitude associated with air travel can frequently cause a feeling of fullness in the ear, accompanied by muffled hearing. In most cases, this feeling will pass quickly and your hearing will go back to normal.
  • Earwax buildup: Normally, earwax is a good thing. The health of your ear canal depends on the generation of earwax. However, excessive earwax can eventually cause muffled hearing (or even hearing loss). Try a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen things up. Never try to dislodge stuck earwax with a cotton swab which will only push the wax further up into the ear canal. If the problem continues, come in and talk to us.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a chronic balance and hearing problem. Dizziness, balance problems, tinnitus, and muffled ears will develop over time because of this disease. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be treated but not cured.

The exact symptoms of muffled hearing will vary depending on the root cause.

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Not all forms of muffled hearing have a cure. The base cause of your muffled hearing will establish the treatment strategy. For instance, if excessive earwax buildup is the primary cause, we may use specific tools to help you clean out your ear canal. Muffled hearing caused by an ear infection will usually clear up once the infection has been treated, 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. But it is possible to control symptoms. There may be several approaches to this treatment including a set of hearing aids.

Hearing aids can help you remain connected to loved ones and go about your daily activities without a substantially noticeable impact, especially when this process is started promptly.

How to avoid muffled hearing in the first place

Some types of muffled hearing are hard to avoid, no matter what. For instance, ear infections and sinus infections are difficult to reliably avoid.

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. Contact us for an appointment right away.

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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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