Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

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 most cases, this situation is temporary. But muffled hearing can also be an indication that a more severe hearing problem is taking place. Partly, that’s because, aside from sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is typically not a condition that develops suddenly. Symptoms build gradually and over time.

Typically, one of the first noticeable symptoms is a sense that sounds feel muffled, distorted, or quieter. However, it’s important to point out 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.

Maybe you’re wondering if you should be worried about your muffled hearing. Generally, the answer varies. Finding the best treatment for your muffled hearing depends on recognizing the underlying cause. Added damage can be prevented and your hearing can get back to normal with some quick solutions. Contacting us for a consultation can help you begin this process, typically resulting in successful treatments, so you can keep enjoying the sounds of your day-to-day life.

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 leads to a noticeable decrease in sound quality. In the majority of cases, people 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 cases, and depending on the root cause, muffled hearing can be associated with a sense of fullness or stuffiness in your ears. Lots of people have experienced this feeling for a short time, for instance, when they have a cold or are flying. Muffled hearing isn’t always combined with this feeling, however.

Causes of muffled hearing

There are lots of potential causes of muffled hearing. In order to formulate the correct course of treatment, it’s important to figure out the root cause. Here are some of the most prevalent causes:

  • Travel: The changing altitude related to air travel can frequently cause a feeling of fullness in the ear, followed closely by muffled hearing. In most instances, this feeling will go away rapidly and your hearing will go back to normal.
  • 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 outcome of this natural diminishing of your hearing.
  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from chronic hearing and balance problems. Over time, this disease can cause tinnitus, hearing loss (frequently starting with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. There’s no cure for Meniere’s Disease, but symptoms can be managed.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss caused by noise-related damage can sometimes cause muffled hearing. Regrettably, this type of hearing loss is normally permanent. One of the very first recognizable symptoms is muffled hearing; but damage to your stereocilia has usually already happened by the time you notice the distorted sounds. You should seek out treatment rapidly to avoid your hearing growing substantially worse quickly.
  • Infection: Swelling of the ear canal will often come with problems like ear infections or sinus infections. This inflammation can cause your ear canal to swell shut, effectively decreasing your ability to hear. Once the underlying infection goes away, any inflammation it caused should also clear.
  • Earwax buildup: Earwax is generally a helpful thing. The health of your ear canal relies on the production of earwax. However, excessive earwax can eventually cause muffled hearing (or even loss of hearing). Try a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen things up. Never attempt to free stuck earwax by using a cotton swab which will only pack the wax further up into the ear canal. We can help if the problem persists.

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

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Not all kinds of muffled hearing can be cured. The treatment for your muffled hearing will differ depending on the root cause. 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 managed, so antibiotics are usually prescribed.

Symptom management is usually the approach when you have sensorineural hearing loss rather than a cure. That’s because sensorineural hearing loss can’t be cured. 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 stay connected to loved ones and tackle your daily activities without a substantially noticeable impact, particularly when this process is started quickly.

How to steer clear of muffled hearing in the first place

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

However, in most cases, routine hearing tests can help you avoid many of the causes of muffled hearing and detect 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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