Muffled hearing in one ear
Muffled hearing generally falls under the term ‘conductive hearing loss’. This means it is caused by a blockage in the middle ear that is preventing the sound getting to the inner ear such as earwax, a growth or fluid.
If muffled hearing is a result of ‘sensorineural hearing loss’ it will need more attention from an audiologist as this relates to problems with the inner ear and the nerves related to hearing.
Whether it is in one or both ears, sound can be unclear, muffled or you might hear only some frequencies. Your audiologist or GP will determine if it is any of the following:
Occasionally, muffled hearing can be caused by blockage in the ear caused by buildup of tissue or fluid or a tumour. An example of this would be cholesteatoma.
Your hearing might be muffled if you’ve recently been on a flight. The Eustachian tubes that connect your nose and throat to the middle of your ear can become blocked which means they don’t handle pressure changes too well. This is known as ear barotrauma, and it can last just a few hours to longer in more severe cases.
There are all sorts of ear infections that could result in muffled hearing. Common causes are: colds, flu, viruses or even swimmer’s ear, all of which can affect the middle ear and therefore create muffled hearing.
A perforated eardrum can occur as a result of trauma to the ear or compacted earwax and will therefore result in muffled hearing. You’ll need to see a GP or specialist to sort out a treatment plan.
Glue ear, also known as Otitis Media, can cause muffled hearing as a result of the fluid build-up in the middle ear. The consistency of the fluid will affect how much hearing loss you are experiencing.
Earwax does a great job in helping to keep the sensitive bits of our ears dust free but at times it does go a bit crazy and ends up blocking the ears which causes muffled hearing.
Earwax removal kits, which use liquid to soften the wax, are the best way to clean the ear. While cotton buds might seem like a good idea, they can push the wax further into the ear and make the problem worse.
If your muffled hearing is accompanied by dizziness and tinnitus, it could be Ménière’s disease which affects the inner ear, although usually just in one ear.
From one-off noisy events such as a concert to years of working in a noisy environment, noise damage can cause muffled hearing on either a temporary or permanent basis.
Sensorineural hearing loss
Muffled hearing is often simply a result of age, as our ears succumb to general wear and tear. Hearing loss is very common as we get older – your audiologist will be able to explain more.
Muffled hearing is often accompanied by tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing noise that only you can hear. It’s fairly common condition that can be temporary or permanent and range in severity.
Muffled hearing in one ear
Muffled hearing can be in one or both ears. Sudden hearing loss is more likely to affect just one ear. It may feel as though your ear is blocked or has a ‘full’ sensation.
In the event of sudden hearing loss contact an emergency care provider. The sooner the problem is sorted the more likely your hearing will return unaffected.
How to treat muffled hearing
Treatment for muffled hearing will be very much determined by the underlying cause. In the event of any hearing loss, it is best to seek advice from your GP or audiologist.
Treatment may then be a case of: antibiotics; removing ear wax or another foreign object; hearing aids or surgery.
Clogged ears can be as a result of many conditions that affect various parts of the ears. Consult a medical professional to determine the underlying cause.
It’s best not to try and unclog you ear until you know the source of the problem. Seek medical attention for advice.
There are a variety of ways to restore hearing, but it will depend on what the underlying cause is first. Speak to a medical professional first.