Woman in pain for tinnitus, sound and noise problem. Healthcare, pressure and hearing loss with girl suffering with muffled hearing.

There are a wide variety of reasons for muffled hearing. In the majority of cases, this situation is temporary. But muffled hearing can also be a sign that a more severe hearing issue is occurring. In part, that’s because, outside of sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is generally not a condition that progresses suddenly. Symptoms show up slowly over a long time period.

One of the first symptoms of slowly developing long-term hearing loss is the sense that your hearing is muffled. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t necessarily an indication that you are developing permanent hearing loss. Every year millions of individuals experience muffled hearing.

Perhaps you’re wondering if you should be concerned about your muffled hearing. The answer depends on various factors. Understanding the root cause of your muffled hearing is essential to finding the correct treatment approach. Timely solutions can in some cases help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least reduce possible harm. You will be able to get back to enjoying the sounds of your life after you get us to help you with some successful treatments.

What is muffled hearing?

Muffled hearing takes place when sound is unable to travel through your outer, middle, and inner ear in the way that it ordinarily does. A very noticeable decline in sound quality is the outcome. In the majority of cases, individuals with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but things sound quieter or distorted. This may particularly affect your ability to hear and understand voices and spoken language.

In many cases, and depending on the underlying cause, muffled hearing can be associated with a sense of fullness or stuffiness in your ears. Many people have experienced this feeling temporarily, for instance, when they have a cold or are taking a flight. Muffled hearing isn’t always accompanied by this feeling, however.

What causes muffled hearing?

There are a lot of possible causes of muffled hearing. In order to establish the correct course of treatment, it’s important to determine the root cause. Here are several of the most common causes:

  • Hearing loss related to age: Most people will experience decreasing hearing as they get older. Needless to say, when you’re 80 all of your senses will be less acute than when you were 18. Over time, muffled hearing can be the result of this normal diminishing of your hearing.
  • Infection: Sometimes, issues like infections (including sinus infections or ear infections) can cause inflammation in the ear canal (this is especially true with ear infections). This inflammation can cause your ear canal to swell shut, effectively diminishing your ability to hear. Once the base infection clears, any swelling it caused should also clear.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: In some cases, muffled hearing can be the outcome of noise-related hearing loss. This form of hearing loss is, sadly, normally permanent. Muffled hearing is often one of the first detectable symptoms; but by the time you notice the distorted sounds, damage to your stereocilia has likely already happened. If you don’t find treatment quickly, your hearing will rapidly get worse.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a long-term balance and hearing issue. Dizziness, balance problems, tinnitus, and muffled ears will develop over time due to this disease. There’s no cure for Meniere’s Disease, but symptoms can be treated.
  • Travel: The changing altitude associated with air travel can often cause a feeling of fullness in the ear, accompanied by muffled hearing. In most instances, this feeling will pass quickly and your normal hearing will be restored.
  • Earwax buildup: Usually, earwax is a good thing. It helps keep your ear canal healthy. But muffled hearing (and in some instances even hearing loss) can be the result of too much earwax. 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 condense your earwax and make the issue worse. We can help if the issue continues.

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

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Some types of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The base cause of your muffled hearing will determine the treatment strategy. We may use some special 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 typically clear up once the infection has been addressed, so antibiotics are often prescribed.

When it comes to sensorineural hearing loss, the focus changes to symptom management instead of a total cure. That’s because sensorineural hearing loss can’t be reversed. But it is possible to manage symptoms. This may take a number of forms, but the most common is using a pair of hearing aids so that you can bring clarity to what you hear.

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

Avoiding muffled hearing

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