Hearing impaired man talking using mobile phone at home

Help! My hearing is muffled!

A common sign of hearing loss is when people report their hearing is muffled. When a person indicates that they have some sudden or gradual hearing loss and that loss affects one or both ears, it is important to visit a specialist. Muffled hearing can be caused by a number of factors, but only a trained audiologist should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment.

What to expectA very common reason for muffled or reduced hearing is plugged ears. Ears can be plugged with wax or other debris. In these cases, it is important to have a specialist remove the plug; do not put anything in your ear, including common Q-tips, to attempt to clean out the blockage. A specialist can more effectively and safely remove the blockage and lead to improved hearing. Much like a build-up of ear wax, an ear infection can result in muffled hearing. A fungal or bacterial infection should be diagnosed and treated by a physician.

Persons with a poorly functioning Eustachian tube may suffer from muffled hearing. The Eustachian turn connects the middle ear space with the back of nose and throat, regulating pressure between these two spaces. If you have sinus issues, the Eustachian tube may not function properly. This condition, called Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD), may result in your ears feeling clogged. Often the clogging is temporary and requires no intervention. If the condition is persistent or frequent, an evaluation by an audiologist may provide clarity on the condition and an appropriate treatment plan.

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Other reasons for muffled hearing included asymmetric hearing loss and/or high-frequency hearing loss. Asymmetric hearing loss occurs when the loss is greater in one ear. The difference in hearing can lead to confusion in the brain and muffled hearing. On the other hand, high-frequency hearing loss means one has difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Since these sounds include the consonant sounds of speech more than the vowel sounds, people suffering high-frequency hearing loss can “hear”, but persons speaking often sound as if they are mumbling.

In all cases of perceived hearing loss, the first step is getting a proper diagnosis. Professional help can safely assess your current situation and apply expertise towards creating a treatment plan that best fits your specific needs. At NexGen Hearing, we specialize in helping all Canadians with their hearing care and have the staff, tools, and techniques to help you reduce or eliminate muffled hearing.