Audiology & Hearing Care of SWFL - Bonita Springs, FL

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. For most individuals, it’s a temporary situation. But muffled hearing can also be an indication that a more serious hearing issue is happening. In part, that’s because, outside of sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is usually not a condition that develops suddenly. Symptoms show up gradually over a long period of time.

One of the earliest symptoms of slowly progressing long-term hearing loss is the sense that your hearing is muffled. However, it’s important to mention that muffled hearing in and of itself is not always an indication of long-term hearing loss. Indeed, millions of people experience muffled hearing each year.

Perhaps you’re wondering if you should be worried about your muffled hearing. The answer depends on a number of factors. Finding the proper treatment for your muffled hearing depends on understanding the underlying cause. Added damage can be prevented and your hearing can get back to normal with some quick solutions. You will be able to go back to enjoying the sounds of your life after you get us to assist you with some successful treatments.

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 leads to a noticeable drop in sound quality. In the majority of instances, those with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but everything sounds quieter or distorted. Discerning speech and language can be especially difficult.

Your ears will often also feel clogged up when your hearing is muffled. Many people have experienced this feeling temporarily, for example, when they have a cold or when they are flying. Muffled hearing isn’t always accompanied by this feeling, however.

What causes muffled hearing?

There are lots of potential causes of muffled hearing. Determining the underlying cause of your muffled hearing can be important in establishing a successful treatment plan. Some of the most common causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Earwax buildup: Usually, earwax is a good thing. It helps keep your ear canal healthy. But muffled hearing (and in some circumstances even hearing loss) can be the consequence of excess earwax. This earwax can usually be loosened up by using a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide. Do not use a cotton swab to attempt to dislodge the earwax, as cotton swabs can condense your earwax and make the issue worse. If the problem persists, come in and see us.
  • Travel: Altitude changes, like when you’re on a plane, can cause a feeling of muffled ears. Your hearing will go back to normal relatively 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, loss of hearing (frequently beginning with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be managed but not cured.
  • Infection: In some cases, issues such as infections (including sinus infections or ear infections) can result in inflammation in the ear canal (this is especially true with ear infections). This swelling can cause your ear canal to be completely blocked, effectively decreasing your ability to hear. Once the underlying infection clears, any swelling it caused should also clear.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: In some cases, muffled hearing can be the consequence of noise-related hearing loss. This form of hearing loss is, unfortunately, usually irreversible. One of the earliest recognizable symptoms is muffled hearing; but by the time you detect the distorted sounds, damage to your stereocilia has likely already taken place. You should find treatment promptly to avoid your hearing getting significantly worse quickly.
  • Age-associated hearing loss: As you age, your hearing can diminish as a result of natural causes. Needless to say, when you’re 80 all of your senses will be less sharp than when you were 18. This natural decline in your hearing ability can cause muffled hearing over time.

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

Is there a cure for muffled hearing?

Some forms of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The treatment for your muffled hearing will differ depending on the root cause. We might use some special tools to help clear out your ear canal if, for instance, earwax buildup is at the root of your muffled hearing. Muffled hearing caused by an ear infection will typically clear up once the infection has been treated, so antibiotics are often prescribed.

Symptom management is usually the approach when you’re dealing with sensorineural hearing loss as opposed to a cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. But it is possible to manage symptoms. This may take several forms, but the most common is the use of a set of hearing aids in order to bring clarity to what you hear.

Hearing aids can help you remain connected to loved ones and tackle your daily activities without a significantly noticeable impact, especially when this process is initiated quickly.

How to avoid muffled hearing in the first place

Some forms of muffled hearing are hard to avoid, no matter what. Infections, for instance, can’t always be avoided.

Getting your hearing tested, however, can help identify any causes of muffled hearing and can help prevent any long-term hearing loss that may 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.