Geneva Hearing Services - Geneva, IL

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 condition is short-term. In other cases, muffled hearing can be a harbinger of more significant hearing-related issues. Partly, that’s because, aside from sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is typically not a condition that develops suddenly. Symptoms develop gradually over a long time period.

Often, one of the first detectable symptoms is a sense that sounds feel muffled, distorted, or quieter. However, it’s important to mention that muffled hearing in and of itself is not always a sign of permanent hearing loss. Indeed, millions of individuals experience muffled hearing each year.

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 crucial to finding the right treatment approach. Timely solutions can in some cases help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least minimize possible damage. Contacting us for a consultation can help you start this process, typically leading to successful treatments, so you can continue enjoying the sounds of your everyday life.

What is muffled hearing?

When sound can’t travel through your outer, middle, and inner ear in a normal way, your hearing can sound muffled. A rather noticeable decrease in sound fidelity is the outcome. Hearing won’t be completely gone with muffled hearing but things will sound garbled and quieter. Discerning speech and language can be especially difficult.

In many instances, 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. This clogged feeling, however, doesn’t always come with muffled hearing.

What causes muffled hearing?

Muffled hearing can be caused by a wide variety of problems. Determining the underlying cause of your muffled hearing can be essential in establishing a successful treatment plan. Some of the most prevalent causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss which results from noise damage can sometimes result in muffled hearing. This kind of hearing loss is, sadly, usually permanent. Muffled hearing is often one of the earliest detectable symptoms; but damage to your stereocilia has likely already happened by the time you detect the distorted sounds. You should find treatment promptly to avoid your hearing getting considerably worse quickly.
  • Infection: Inflammation of the ear canal will frequently come with issues like ear infections or sinus infections. This will diminish your hearing ability by causing the ear canal to swell shut. Once the underlying infection goes away, any swelling it caused should also clear.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a long-term balance and hearing problem. Over time, this disease can cause tinnitus, loss of hearing (frequently starting with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. There’s no cure for Meniere’s Disease, but symptoms can be treated.
  • Age-related hearing loss: Most people will experience decreasing hearing as they get older. After all, there are few senses as acute when you are 80 as they were when you are 18. Over time, muffled hearing can be the result of this natural decline of your ability to hear.
  • Earwax buildup: Earwax is generally a helpful thing. The health of your ear canal depends on the production of earwax. But muffled hearing (and in some circumstances even hearing loss) can be the result of excess earwax. Try a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen things up. Do not use a cotton swab to try to dislodge the earwax, as cotton swabs can compact your earwax and make the issue worse. We can help if the problem persists.
  • Travel: Altitude changes, like when you’re on a plane, can cause a feeling of muffled ears. Your hearing will go back to normal fairly quickly once your physical conditions return to normal.

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

Is there a cure for muffled hearing?

Not all kinds of muffled hearing have a cure. The treatment for your muffled hearing will change depending on the base cause. We might use some specialized tools to help clear out your ear canal if, for example, earwax buildup is at the root of your muffled hearing. Antibiotics are usually prescribed if your muffled hearing is being caused by an infection.

Symptom management is usually the approach when you’re dealing with sensorineural hearing loss as opposed to a cure. That’s because sensorineural hearing loss can not be reversed. But it is possible to manage symptoms. There may be numerous approaches to this treatment including a pair of hearing aids.

Hearing aids can help you remain connected to loved ones and tackle your day-to-day activities without a substantially noticeable effect, particularly when this process is started quickly.

How to avoid muffled hearing in the first place

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

Getting your hearing tested, however, can help detect any causes of muffled hearing and can help prevent any long-term hearing loss that might be developing. 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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