Have you ever experienced a feeling of fullness or pressure in your ears when you’re flying in an airplane? Do you have or know anyone with tinnitus? Have you ever felt pain in your ears after going swimming and feel as though you can’t quite hear as clearly… as if your hearing sounds a bit clogged? These are all common symptoms of muffled hearing, when sound waves are struggling to pass through the inner ear.
How do you get Muffled Hearing?
Muffled hearing can occur in one or both ears. Muffled hearing can happen when traveling in an airplane or due to taking ototoxic medications (medications known to cause hearing loss) and can be a result of noise damage and age-related hearing loss. Airplane ear, ototoxicity, noise damage, and age-related hearing loss can occur while there is both ringing and muffled hearing in one or both ears. In addition, a perforated eardrum, earwax buildup (cerumen), and tumors can cause ringing and muffled hearing. The common cold may also cause muffled hearing while being sick or even after getting over the cold. Muffled hearing can develop after recovering from a cold when the cold has progressed into a middle ear infection or a sinus infection and the congestion or drainage has caused a clogged feeling in the ears.
So, now that we know the possible causes of muffled hearing, what treatments are out there? Your doctor may recommend an at-home kit for blockage due to excessive earwax. However, if there is a foreign object, your doctor will most likely use a small vacuum device or forceps to clear the blockage. However, surgery may be necessary if there is a risk of damaging the eardrum. A perforated eardrum can heal on its own, however if it doesn’t, your doctor may seal the tear or hole by using an eardrum patch. Surgery is an option if the patch doesn’t work. Surgery is also done when there is a tumor in the middle ear, however radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be an option as well. When experiencing clogging due to an ear infection or sinus infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Taking a decongestant or by simply chewing gum, yawning, or sneezing can help clear the Eustachian tubes when feeling pressure in the ears when flying. For individuals experiencing muffled hearing that just won’t go away due to being diagnosed with ménière’s disease, have age-related or noise-induced hearing loss, or are experiencing hearing problems due to head trauma or medications, hearing aids and sound therapies are options in helping amplify and strengthen sounds.
Preventing Muffled Hearing
So, what can we do to practice better hearing health? Raising awareness to hearing loss and taking preventative measures can help prolong and reduce the degree of hearing loss. Be mindful of noise levels, not only for your ears but your children’s ears, too. Turn the volume down on televisions, radios, phones, and other electronic devices. Use earplugs when going to loud venues and ear muffs during cold weather. Keep your fingers, and foreign objects, out of your ears to prevent exposing them to more bacteria. Get regular hearing tests and check-ups.
Treat your ears with love.
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