Muffled Hearing: Causes and Remedies

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 large number of reasons. For the majority of people, it’s a short-term situation. In other cases, muffled hearing can be a precursor of more significant hearing-related issues. That’s because, for the most part, hearing loss is a gradually developing condition. Symptoms develop gradually and over time.

One of the first symptoms of gradually developing long-term hearing loss is the sense that your hearing is muffled. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t necessarily an indication that you are developing long-term hearing loss. Each year millions of people experience muffled hearing.

You might be wondering: when should I be concerned about muffled hearing? The answer depends on various factors. Recognizing the root cause of your muffled hearing is crucial to finding the right treatment approach. Prompt solutions can in some cases help get your hearing back to normal, or, at least reduce possible damage. Contacting us for a consultation can help you start this process, often resulting in successful treatments, so you can keep enjoying the sounds of your day-to-day 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 very noticeable decline in sound quality is the outcome. Hearing won’t be entirely gone with muffled hearing but things will sound distorted and quieter. Hearing speech and language can be especially tough.

Your ears will often also feel plugged up when your hearing is muffled. Sometimes, when you’re taking a flight or have a cold you might experience this feeling. Muffled hearing is not always associated with this feeling, however.

What causes muffled hearing?

There are a lot of possible causes of muffled hearing. In order to establish the correct course of treatment, it’s essential to determine the root cause. Some of the most prevalent 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 cases even hearing loss) can be the result of excess earwax. Try a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear to loosen things up. Never try to dislodge stuck earwax by using a cotton swab which will only push the wax further up into the ear canal. If the problem lingers, come in and talk to us.
  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from chronic hearing and balance problems. Over time, this disease can trigger tinnitus, loss of hearing (often beginning with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be managed but not cured.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss which results from noise-related damage can sometimes cause muffled hearing. Unfortunately, this kind of hearing loss is normally permanent. Muffled hearing is often one of the first detectable symptoms; but damage to your stereocilia has likely already happened by the time you notice the distorted sounds. If you don’t seek out treatment quickly, your hearing will rapidly get worse.
  • Age-related hearing loss: Most individuals will experience diminishing hearing as they get older. Obviously, when you’re 80 all of your senses will be less sharp than when you were 18. Over time, muffled hearing can be the result of this natural decline of your hearing.
  • Travel: The changing air pressure associated with 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.
  • Infection: Swelling of the ear canal will often accompany problems such as ear infections or sinus infections. This inflammation can cause your ear canal to be completely blocked, effectively diminishing your ability to hear. Muffled hearing symptoms due to infections will typically go away after the root illness has been dealt with.

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

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Not all kinds of muffled hearing can be cured. The treatment for your muffled hearing will change depending on the underlying cause. For instance, if excess earwax buildup is the principal cause, we might use specific tools to help you clean out your ear canal. Antibiotics are typically prescribed if your muffled hearing is being caused by an infection.

When it comes to sensorineural hearing loss, the focus changes to symptom management as opposed to a complete cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. However, symptoms can be managed. There may be numerous strategies to this treatment including a pair of hearing aids.

Hearing aids can help you stay connected to loved ones and go about your daily activities without a substantially noticeable effect, particularly when this process is initiated promptly.

Avoiding muffled hearing

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

Getting your hearing tested, however, can help detect any causes of muffled hearing and can help avoid any long-term hearing loss that might be developing. Contact us for an appointment right away.

The content of this blog is the intellectual property of and is reprinted here with permission. The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a hearing aid consultation, call today to schedule an appointment.