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Muffled Hearing in One Ear

Bidisha Mukherjee Apr 17, 2019
Muffled hearing is a condition that can cause a lot of inconvenience to the person suffering from it. Highlighted here are the causes and treatment options for the same.
Muffled hearing in one ear can be described as the decrease in the ability of a person to hear sounds properly.
In certain cases, it may happen that the patient is unable to hear some particular frequencies of sound. It is not necessary that the condition will result in deafening of the ear. In most cases, it is accompanied by a clogged feeling inside the ear. The severity of these symptoms vary according to the underlying cause of the problem.

Causes and Treatment

There are several causes of muffled hearing in one ear. Some of them are minor issues and others could be more serious ones. The commonly found causes are :

Earwax Buildup

This is one of the most common causes. When there is excess of earwax buildup in one particular ear, then it can block the passage of sound in that ear. If you have not cleaned your ear for a long period of time, then the cause is likely to be excessive earwax.
It is harmless, and can be removed with the help of a earwax removal kit. It is more advisable to consult your doctor. Do not try for earwax removal with cotton swabs, as they tend to push the wax further inside the ear which in turn can damage the eardrum.

Glue Ear

This problem is also known as otitis media, and is a kind of infection that affects the middle part of the ear. It can lead to muffled hearing in both the ears as well. Due to this middle ear infection, fluid gets entrapped in this region which makes transmission of sounds from outer to the inner ear difficult.
The severity of the condition, after ear infection largely depends of the thickness of the fluid, which is blocking the ear. It may take some time to clear up the affected ear completely, but usually no treatment is needed.

Swimmer's Ear

This can lead to hearing loss in one ear temporarily. The ear canal is inflamed due to some infection. So, size of the canal decreases greatly and is not enough for the sound to pass through, and one experiences muffled hearing. If the infection is minor, it will take a few days for the problem to go away. For a major infection, antibiotics are needed.

Ear Infection

If you get muffled hearing after a cold, then it can be due to a bad ear infection. Such an infection is caused by germs in the mouth and nose, which mostly affects the middle part of the ear. A minor infection may not require any treatment, but serious infection has to be treated with antibiotics.

Rupture in the Eardrum

A perforation in the eardrum can be yet another cause of this condition. If you experience sudden unclear hearing in one ear after getting a head injury, then the possible cause is damage in the eardrum.
The course of treatment depends on the extent of damage. Slight damage can heal on its own, but for severe damage one has to consider the option of surgery. If the eardrum gets perforated by an infection, then antibiotics can treat the condition.


Growth of tumor in the ear canal is quite rare but it cannot be ruled out. The tumor could be cancerous or non-cancerous. Any abnormal bony growth, tissue growth, or fluid growth inside the ear canal will narrow down the passage, and cause partial loss of hearing.
It could be one of the symptoms of acoustic neuroma which is a non-cancerous form of tumor that grows on the auditory nerve. The only way the problem can be fixed is with the help of the surgery or radiation therapy.
When you experience muffled hearing, consult your doctor for proper identification of the cause and required treatment. Do not try any self treatment. Such conditions are generally temporary and curable. In case it is an indication of a permanent loss of hearing, there is no treatment available, and use of hearing aid is the only solution for this problem.