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Woman in pain for tinnitus, sound and noise problem. Healthcare, pressure and hearing loss with girl suffering with muffled hearing.

Muffled hearing can present for lots of reasons. For the majority of people, it’s a short-term experience. But muffled hearing can also be an indication that a more serious hearing issue is occurring. In part, that’s because, aside from sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is generally not a condition that progresses suddenly. Symptoms progress gradually and over time.

One of the first symptoms of gradually progressing long-term hearing loss is the sense that your hearing is muffled. However, it’s essential 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.

You may be wondering: when do I need to be concerned about muffled hearing? Generally, the answer tends to vary. Finding the correct treatment for your muffled hearing depends on understanding the underlying cause. Timely solutions can in some cases help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least minimize possible damage. You will be able to go back to enjoying the sounds of your life after you get us to help you with some successful treatments.

What is muffled hearing?

Muffled hearing happens when sound is not able to travel through your outer, middle, and inner ear in the way that it ordinarily does. A rather noticeable decrease in sound fidelity is the result. In the majority of cases, people with muffled hearing can still hear some or even most things, but things sound quieter or jumbled. Discerning speech and language can be especially difficult.

Your ears will often also feel plugged up when your hearing is muffled. Sometimes, when you’re taking a flight or suffering from a cold you might experience this feeling. This plugged feeling, however, doesn’t always come along with muffled hearing.

Causes of muffled hearing

Muffled hearing can be caused by a wide variety of issues. Determining the root cause of your muffled hearing can be significant in establishing a successful treatment plan. Some of the most common causes of muffled hearing include the following:

  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss which results from noise-related damage can sometimes bring about muffled hearing. Sadly, this form of hearing loss is normally irreversible. Muffled hearing is frequently one of the very first noticeable symptoms; but damage to your stereocilia has likely already happened by the time you notice the distorted sounds. You should seek out treatment rapidly to avoid your hearing growing significantly worse quickly.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a long-term balance and hearing issue. Dizziness, balance issues, tinnitus, and muffled ears will develop over time because of this disease. There’s no cure for Meniere’s Disease, but symptoms can be treated.
  • Travel: The changing air pressure related to air travel can frequently cause a plugged feeling in the ear, followed closely by muffled hearing. In most instances, this feeling will pass rapidly and your hearing will go back to normal.
  • Earwax buildup: Normally, earwax is a good thing. The health of your ear canal depends on the production of earwax. However, too much earwax can ultimately cause muffled hearing (or even hearing loss). This earwax can usually be loosened up by using a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. 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 issue continues.
  • Hearing loss related to age: As you get older, 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 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 swelling can cause your ear canal to be completely blocked, effectively diminishing your ability to hear. Muffled hearing symptoms due to infections will usually go away after the underlying illness has been dealt with.

The exact symptoms of muffled hearing will vary depending on the root cause.

Is there a cure for muffled hearing?

Not all forms of muffled hearing have a cure. The treatment for your muffled hearing will differ depending on the root cause. For instance, if excess earwax buildup is the principal cause, we may use specific tools to help you clear out your ear canal. 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 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 controlled. This might take several forms, but the most common is using a pair of hearing aids so that you can bring clarity to what you hear.

With hearing aids, you can keep enjoying your daily activities without hearing loss impacting your quality of life.

Avoiding muffled hearing

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

However, in most instances, 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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