How to tell if your hearing is muffled

How to tell if your hearing is muffled.jpgHaving difficulty hearing can be frustrating and worrisome. Straining to hear important conversations, constantly asking your loved ones to speak up, or simply pretending that you can hear everything isn’t a way to fully enjoy your life. Feeling as if your ears are filled with cotton is irritating, too. Hearing difficulties can have significant effects on your daily life. And they shouldn’t be ignored.

You might think—or hope—that others aren’t talking as clearly as they once did. It can be far more difficult to admit to yourself that you might be suffering from hearing loss.

When your hearing capability is reduced, you must identify the root cause of the problem. Here’s how to tell if your hearing is indeed muffled, or permanently impaired.

Get tested

Hearing difficulties can occur for a variety of reasons. To find out what’s going on, schedule an appointment with an audiologist to get a diagnostic hearing test. This is the best way to understand why you’re not hearing things as clearly as you used to and what can be done.

The audiologist will perform a full hearing test, to evaluate the auditory pathway, and help pinpoint the origin of your symptoms. Once an evaluation is performed, an appropriate solution can be offered to ensure you’re hearing as best as you can.


Your audiologist will first take a close look at your ear canals. Sometimes, people have trouble hearing due to a sudden buildup of earwax.

If this is the case, your audiologist may be able to remove the build up or provide an appropriate referral. Note: do not try to remove buildup with a cotton swab. You could end up doing more harm than good.

Middle ear pressure

If there is no wax buildup in your ear canals, your audiologist may examine the movement of your eardrums with tympanometry. If your eardrum is functioning normally, this equipment confirms eardrum movement in response to both pressure and sound. However, if there is abnormal pressure in the middle ear space, the eardrum may not have normal mobility.

If this is the case, you’ve probably felt the need to yawn or “pop” your ears by other means to clear out the cotton-in-the-ears sensation. This middle ear pressure can sometimes be related to the perception of muffled hearing.

Hearing loss

After a thorough evaluation, it may be determined that the underlying reason for muffled hearing is permanent hearing loss, also known as sensorineural hearing loss.

The symptoms of permanent hearing loss can vary from person to person. You could simply feel like you have cotton in your ears. Or, you could have trouble hearing higher frequencies, making it more difficult for you to clearly hear consonant sounds.

Regardless of the cause of your muffled hearing, our doctoral-level audiologists will work closely with you to find the ideal solution to make sure you are hearing your best. Request an appointment today.