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Ear Muffled and Ringing

Why is My Ear Muffled and Ringing?

Do you find it difficult to make out what people are saying during phone calls? Does it feel like you have cotton in your ears, and the sounds seem muffled? You may also experience ringing in the ear as well. Muffled hearing can be caused by several things, including earwax buildup and ear infections. A visit with a hearing specialist can help you determine the cause and the best course of action.

Causes of Muffled Hearing

Excessive Earwax

Cerumen, another name for earwax, is made in the outer ear canal. It is a waxy substance that acts as a lubricant and cleans the ears. The dirty wax collects on the outside of the ear where it can be cleaned away. Occasionally, it can build up in the ear canal and cause a blockage in one or both ears. When this happens, it can cause pressure, muffled hearing, and ringing in the ears.

Age-Related Hearing Loss

Presbycusis is the name for age-related hearing loss that comes on gradually. Someone experiencing this type of hearing loss may not be able to hear a phone ringing. They may also have trouble distinguishing high-pitched sounds. Hearing loss can range from mild to severe with symptoms such as muffled hearing and ringing in the ears.


Tinnitus is described as a ringing, humming, or buzzing sound in the ear when there are no external sounds. Subjective tinnitus is sounds that only you can hear. Your doctor can hear objective tinnitus during a physical examination. These sounds can be temporary and resolve on their own or may require treatment from a hearing specialist. Causes of tinnitus are often due to exposure to loud noises, age-related hearing loss, and excessive earwax.

Ear Blockage

Blockages in the ear can be due to a foreign object lodged in the ear canal, an insect trapped in the ear, or water in the ear (swimmer’s ear) from swimming or showering. This is a common cause of muffled hearing in children. A blockage in the ear can cause muffled hearing, pressure, or pain in the ear. You should never try to remove a blockage yourself; this can be dangerous and needs to be done by a professional.

Airplane Ear

Airplane ear is the term for an imbalance of air pressure when flying or traveling at high altitudes. This usually occurs right after takeoff when climbing and sometimes when landing. It is usually a temporary condition that goes away after the air pressure equalizes. Once the plane reaches a higher altitude and levels of it usually starts to subside. It can cause a ringing in the ear and mild ear pain.

Clear Choice Hearing Centers perform earwax removal and hearing evaluations to determine the best treatment course for you. Contact us for more information or to make an appointment.

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