Craig Kasper, chief audiologist at New York Hearing Doctors, shares four other factors behind muffled hearing.
You need some wax to lubricate and protect the tissue in your ear, but a wax buildup can block the canal and cause temporary hearing loss. Leave removal to a doctor; cotton swabs just push wax farther in.
They can cause congestion in the tube that links your nose to the middle of your ears, which can lead to temporary hearing struggles until the pathways clear.
Love catching waves? Surfers and other cold-water swimmers are prone to something called exostoses, or small bony growths in the ear canal that develop slowly over time and can prevent sound from getting in. Docs aren’t sure why this happens, but an audiologist will determine if you need surgery to remove them.
Changes in air pressure (experienced when flying or diving), very loud noises, and poking things in your ear can rupture a hole in your eardrum (ouch!). This often heals on its own—but if you notice long-term changes in your hearing, see your doctor.