If your hearing sounds muffled, or if it feels like there’s ‘cotton in your ears’, there’s likely a good explanation. Muffled hearing can come about gradually or suddenly, depending on the underlying problem. It may also occur in one ear or both ears. There are often common reasons for muffled hearing and it is not always an indicator that you are experiencing hearing loss.Remember though that there is no substitute for seeking professional advice. We can help connect you to a local audiologist – just head to this short form.Common causes of muffled hearingYour ears are plugged with waxMost likely you will start to notice your hearing becoming more and more muffled over time as the wax begins to build. Avoid poking anything inside your ear, including Q-tips or cotton buds. Instead, clean your ears simply by using a washcloth. If you think you have a build-up of excess wax, speak to a pharmacist or see your audiologist.You have asymmetric hearing lossAsymmetric hearing loss means your hearing is worse in one ear than the other. It might feel as though the sound is muffled in the poorer-hearing ear. You may notice asymmetric hearing loss if you hold the phone up to each ear, and find it’s clearer in the better ear.The likelihood is that it’s something untoward that can be treated easily, so book a visit to your audiologist to get your hearing checked out.You have an ear infectionIf you have a middle ear infection – called otitis media – your ear may be infected by a virus, fungus or bacterial infection. This will likely temporarily affect your hearing and may make your hearing sound muffled in the affected ear. Ear infections often clear on their own, but if you still have symptoms after five days, see a doctor and check if you need treatment to resolve the infection. You have eustachian tube dysfunctionThis occurs when there’s a difference between air pressure inside and outside the body, like when your ears pop during a flight, for example.You have high-frequency hearing lossWhen you have high-frequency hearing loss you have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. This includes consonant sounds of speech more than vowel sounds.With high-frequency hearing loss, you may be able to hear but not understand what people are saying. That’s because when you can’t hear the consonants of speech, the speaker sounds like they’re mumbling or not speaking clearly. Struggling with hearing loss? We can help connect you to an audiologist Book appointment Are people mumbling or is it me?We all experience a range of sounds and noises in our everyday lives, from a knock at the door, to sirens and alarms going off.Plenty of people hear most things perfectly clear, but struggle to hear or understand speech, whether it’s face-to-face conversations, over the telephone, or dialogue in a TV show.People are mumbling if…Some people report that it feels as though people are mumbling – and one reason could be that people around you are mumbling.That’s probably the case if other people in the room are also struggling to hear, if you still have problems understanding someone when the room is otherwise silent, or – for example – if you can hear the dialogue when you switch the TV channel and watch a different program.You may have mild hearing loss if…However, there are some instances where trouble hearing or understanding speech indicates you might be experiencing some hearing loss. These include:Having to ask people to repeat themselves or talk more slowlyPeople’s voices sound muffledHaving to turn the volume up on the TV or radio more and moreStruggling to distinguish consonant soundsFinding it consistently hard using the phoneAvoiding social situations or becoming increasingly isolated because you find it hard to keep up with conversationsGetting tired or stressed, having to focus more while listeningIt’s not necessarily anything to worry about, and a simple hearing test could identify any problems early.