Plainsboro and Monroe, NJ

Plainsboro and Monroe, NJ

Causes of Muffled Hearing and Some Treatments

Princeton Otolaryngology Associates: Dr. Scott L. Kay | Hearing Test Info

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. For the majority of people, it’s a temporary experience. But muffled hearing can also be a sign that a more serious hearing issue is happening. That’s because, in general, hearing loss is a gradually progressing condition. Symptoms appear gradually over a long time period.

One of the earliest symptoms of gradually developing long-term hearing loss is the sense that your hearing is muffled. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t necessarily a sign that you are developing long-term hearing loss. Each year millions of individuals experience muffled hearing.

You might be wondering: when do I need to be concerned about muffled hearing? The answer depends on several factors. Finding the right treatment for your muffled hearing depends on recognizing the underlying cause. Additional damage can be avoided and your hearing can get back to normal with some quick solutions. You will be able to get 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 travel through your outer, middle, and inner ear in a normal way, your hearing can sound muffled. This results in a noticeable drop in sound quality. In most instances, individuals with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but everything sounds quieter or distorted. This might especially impact your ability to discern and understand voices and spoken language.

In many instances, and depending on the underlying cause, muffled hearing can be associated with a sense of fullness or stuffiness in your ears. Sometimes, when you’re on a plane or suffering from a cold you might experience this feeling. Muffled hearing isn’t always associated with this feeling, however.

Causes of muffled hearing

There are lots of possible causes of muffled hearing. In order to develop the appropriate course of treatment, it’s important to establish the root cause. Some of the most common causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Travel: The changing altitude related to air travel can frequently cause a plugged feeling in the ear, accompanied by muffled hearing. In most instances, this feeling will go away quickly and your hearing will go back to normal.
  • Age-associated hearing loss: Most people will experience decreasing hearing as they age. After all, there are few senses as sharp when you are 80 as when you are 18. This normal decline in your ability to hear can cause muffled hearing over time.
  • Infection: Inflammation of the ear canal will often accompany issues like ear infections or sinus infections. This will decrease your hearing ability by causing the ear canal to swell shut. Once the base infection clears, any inflammation it caused should also clear.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: In some cases, muffled hearing can be the outcome of noise-related hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is, unfortunately, generally permanent. Muffled hearing is frequently one of the very first detectable symptoms; but damage to your stereocilia has likely already happened by the time you detect the distorted sounds. You should seek out treatment promptly to avoid your hearing getting significantly worse quickly.
  • Earwax buildup: Usually, earwax is a good 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. This earwax can typically be loosened up by utilizing a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. Never try to dislodge stuck earwax with a cotton swab which will only pack the wax further up into the ear canal. If the issue continues, come in and see us.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a chronic balance and hearing issue. 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.

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

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Some forms of muffled hearing can’t be cured. The treatment for your muffled hearing will change depending on the root cause. We may use some specialized tools to help clear 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 likely clear up once the infection has been managed, so antibiotics are frequently prescribed.

Symptom management is usually the strategy when you have sensorineural hearing loss as opposed to a cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. However, symptoms can be managed. There might be several strategies to this treatment including a set of hearing aids.

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

Avoiding muffled hearing

No matter what you do, some forms of muffled hearing can’t be prevented. Infections, for example, can’t always be avoided.

Getting your hearing examined, however, can help identify any causes of muffled hearing and can help prevent any long-term hearing loss that may be developing. Call us for an appointment right away.

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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