Getting the sense that your ability to hear is being stifled — that everyone is mumbling — can be caused by a number of factors. It may mean that it’s time to start thinking hard about a hearing aid — and at a minimum, a visit to a hearing health professional is called for.
But there are a number of temporary conditions that can cause a degradation of hearing. The long-range prognosis might not be so bad after all.
A common and fairly simple cause could be an ear infection. Fluid builds up in the ear canal and just gets in the way of operations. The term “glue ear” is actually used to describe this circumstance when an ear is all clogged up.
Another kind of infection that is bacterial in nature — swimmer’s ear — can also cause similar symptoms. It’s caused by too much dampness over too long a time in the ear canal. Swimming is the most common, though not exclusive, activity that leads to the problem. The infection causes swelling that acts to inhibit the movement of sound waves in the ear canal.
On the more serious end of the scale, both a ruptured eardrum or tumorous growth can muffle hearing. Although it sounds alarming, a ruptured eardrum can actually go unnoticed — other than the hearing loss — and small tears can heal up in a matter of weeks. And tumorous growths are usually benign, though they do have to be dealt with, since the ear canal is constricted, and hearing will suffer until this is treated.
And on the less serious end of the spectrum, it could just be earwax (especially if only one ear seems to be the problem). Don’t go digging aggressively for it, since you might just make things worse.
The bottom line is if hearing issues persist for more than a few days then schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible.