Gilberts Audiology & Hearing Aid Center - Oklahoma

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. In the majority of cases, this situation is short-term. But muffled hearing can also be a sign that a more serious hearing issue is happening. That’s because, for the most part, hearing loss is a slowly progressing condition. Symptoms develop slowly and over time.

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

Maybe you’re wondering if you should be concerned about your muffled hearing. Generally, the answer varies. Recognizing the root cause of your muffled hearing is essential to finding the right treatment approach. Added damage can be prevented and your hearing can get back to normal with some prompt solutions. 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 day-to-day 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. This leads to a noticeable decrease in sound quality. Hearing won’t be entirely gone with muffled hearing but things will sound distorted and quieter. This may especially affect your ability to discern and understand voices and spoken language.

In many cases, and depending on the root 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 may experience this feeling. This plugged feeling, however, doesn’t always come along with muffled hearing.

Causes of muffled hearing

There are a lot of possible causes of muffled hearing. Identifying the underlying cause of your muffled hearing can be important in establishing an effective treatment plan. Some of the most prevalent causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Earwax buildup: Earwax is generally a helpful thing. It helps keep your ear canal healthy. But muffled hearing (and in some cases even hearing loss) can be the result of too much earwax. Try a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen things up. Never attempt to dislodge stuck earwax by using a cotton swab which will only push the wax further up into the ear canal. We can help if the issue continues.
  • Age-related hearing loss: Most people will experience decreasing hearing as they get older. Obviously, when you’re 80 all of your senses will be less sharp than when you were 18. This natural decline in your ability to hear can cause muffled hearing over time.
  • Infection: Inflammation of the ear canal will often come with problems such as ear infections or sinus infections. This inflammation can cause your ear canal to swell shut, effectively decreasing your ability to hear. Muffled hearing symptoms caused by infections will normally go away after the root illness has been dealt with.
  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from persistent hearing and balance issues. Over time, this disease can trigger tinnitus, loss of hearing (often starting with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be treated but not cured.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: In some cases, muffled hearing can be the consequence of noise-related hearing loss. This kind of hearing loss is, regrettably, generally irreversible. One of the first recognizable symptoms is muffled hearing; but damage to your stereocilia has likely already occurred by the time you detect the distorted sounds. You should find treatment promptly to avoid your hearing getting considerably worse quickly.
  • Travel: Altitude changes, like when you’re on a plane, can cause a feeling of muffled ears. In most instances, this feeling will pass rapidly and your normal hearing will be restored.

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

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Some types of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The root cause of your muffled hearing will determine the treatment strategy. We may use some specialized 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 likely clear up once the infection has been treated, so antibiotics are usually prescribed.

Symptom management is generally the strategy when you have sensorineural hearing loss rather than a cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. However, symptoms can be managed. There might be several approaches to this treatment including a pair of hearing aids.

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

Avoiding muffled hearing

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

However, in most instances, regular hearing tests can help you avoid many of the causes of muffled hearing and identify any permanent hearing loss early. Call 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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