Why is my ear volume so low?

Low ear volume, also known as hearing loss, is when a person is unable to properly hear sounds within normal ranges. This is usually caused by damage to the inner ear, auditory nerve pathways, or brain centers that process hearing. Hearing loss affects about 60.7 million Americans age 12 and older, making it one of the most common health issues. Even mild hearing loss can significantly impact someone’s quality of life and ability to communicate effectively. Understanding the causes, symptoms and treatments for low ear volume is important for anyone experiencing this issue.


There are several potential medical causes of low ear volume:

Earwax blockage – An accumulation of earwax in the ear canal can cause hearing loss and reduced ear volume. Earwax naturally clears itself out, but sometimes too much can build up and needs to be professionally removed (cite: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hearing-loss/symptoms-causes/syc-20373072)

Ear infections – Infections of the outer, middle, or inner ear can cause inflammation and fluid buildup that muffles sounds and reduces volume. Common ear infections include swimmer’s ear and middle ear infections. (cite: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hearing-loss/symptoms-causes/syc-20373072)

Eardrum perforations – Small holes or tears in the eardrum can allow fluid to get into the middle ear, causing hearing loss and reduced volume. Perforations may be due to injury, infection, or pressure changes. (cite: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hearing-loss/symptoms-causes/syc-20373072)

Other factors like aging, genetics, trauma, or exposure to loud noises over time can also cause progressive hearing loss and reduced ear volume. (cite: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hearing-loss/symptoms-causes/syc-20373072)


Some of the most common symptoms associated with low ear volume include:

  • Muffled hearing – Sounds may seem unclear or muted.
  • Difficulty understanding conversations – This is especially noticeable in noisy environments or when multiple people are talking.
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) – A person may hear ringing, buzzing, roaring or hissing sounds.
  • Dizziness (vertigo) – A sensation of the room spinning may occur.
  • Ear fullness or pressure – It can feel like the ear is plugged or congested.
  • Ear pain – A sharp, stabbing or dull ache in one or both ears.
  • Tinnitus – Constant noise in the ear, such as ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking or hissing.

The symptoms may begin gradually or come on suddenly. They can occur in one or both ears. The severity of symptoms often correlates with the degree of hearing loss. Even a mild hearing loss can make it difficult to follow conversations.


Diagnosing low ear volume typically begins with a visit to a healthcare professional such as an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) or audiologist. They will perform a physical examination of the ears using an otoscope to look inside the ear canal for any blockages or damage.

Hearing tests are usually conducted to determine if there is any hearing loss contributing to the low volume. These tests, such as pure tone audiometry and speech audiometry, measure hearing sensitivity across different sound frequencies. The results help identify if hearing loss is present and pinpoint the severity and type of hearing loss.

Imaging scans like CT scans or MRIs may also be ordered to get a closer look at the inner, middle, and outer ear structures. These imaging tests can identify abnormalities or issues such as fluid buildup, inflammation, or tumors that could be impacting volume.

If an underlying medical condition is suspected, bloodwork or other diagnostic testing may be recommended. The goal is to uncover any potential causes of the low ear volume so appropriate treatment can begin.


There are several treatment options for low ear volume depending on the underlying cause:

[1] Removing built-up earwax can help improve volume if blockage is the issue. Earwax removal should be done by a doctor to avoid complications.

[2] For age-related hearing loss, hearing aids are often recommended and can significantly boost volume. Newer hearing aid models connect wirelessly to smartphones for enhanced call volume.

Medications like decongestants and antihistamines may help if allergies or colds are causing swelling and fluid buildup in the middle ear.

For chronic conditions, surgeries like ossiculoplasty to repair middle ear bones or cochlear implants for sensorineural hearing loss can restore volume.

Consulting an audiologist or ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor is advisable to determine the best treatment approach based on exam findings and hearing test results.

Lifestyle Changes

There are several lifestyle changes that can help manage low ear volume and potentially improve hearing clarity over time:

Avoid prolonged exposure to loud noises. Wear earplugs or earmuffs when using loud equipment like power tools or attending concerts. Take regular breaks during noisy activities. Limit volume on headphones and earbuds (Connect Hearing).

Quit smoking. Smoking restricts blood flow to the ears, damaging hair cells. Quitting improves blood circulation and ear health (Quora).

Stay hydrated. Dehydration can increase ear pressure and worsen volume issues. Drink plenty of water and limit alcohol and caffeine (ScopeAround).

Protect ears from water. Use earplugs when swimming or showering to prevent damage and infection from trapped water. Gently dry ears after exposure (Connect Hearing).

Exercise regularly. Physical activity improves blood flow to the ears. Yoga may also help through poses and breathing techniques (Quora).

Coping with Low Ear Volume

There are several strategies you can try to cope with low ear volume on your phone calls:

  • Face the speaker directly to better pick up their voice. Position yourself in a quiet area without background noise.
  • Use headphones or earbuds, which can help amplify the call volume.
  • Turn on closed captioning if available to read text of the conversation.
  • Ask the speaker to talk louder or more clearly.
  • Use alternative communication methods like texting, email, or an online chat service.
  • Consider using a hearing aid or sound amplifier device.
  • Have the speaker use a phone with better speakers or microphone quality.
  • Try to read lips and facial expressions if you’re on a video call.

While frustrating, there are ways to improve communication when dealing with low ear volume. Be patient, reduce background noise, use technology aids when possible, and don’t be afraid to politely ask the speaker to adjust their speech volume and clarity. With some adaption, you can have productive conversations even with limited hearing volume.


There are many resources available for those experiencing low ear volume:

  • Consult an audiologist for hearing tests and potential hearing aids or devices. Audiologists are trained to evaluate hearing ability and recommend solutions.
  • Contact a local hearing loss association for support groups, education, and advocacy. Organizations like the Hearing Loss Association of America have chapters across the country.
  • Look into assistive listening devices like amplified phones, personal listening systems, and alarm clocks. These tools can help compensate for low ear volume.
  • Talk to your doctor about trying decongestant medications or ear wax removal if blockages are contributing to volume issues.
  • Use headphones or earbuds to help amplify volume for phone calls and other listening needs.
  • Enable accessibility features on phones and devices, like Live Listen on iPhones, which can route audio directly to hearing aids.

With the right accommodations and support, those dealing with low ear volume can find ways to improve hearing ability and continue living active, engaged lives.


The long-term outlook and prognosis for low ear volume can vary depending on the underlying cause. In cases of acute low-tone hearing loss not linked to Meniere’s disease, studies show that hearing improvement is seen in 50-60% of patients after 6 months (Roh, 2015). However, the condition may continue to fluctuate or recur in some patients (Huang, 2019). With prompt treatment of reversible causes like earwax blockage, otitis media, or eustachian tube dysfunction, the prognosis is often good. But sensorineural hearing loss related to inner ear damage is typically permanent.

For Meniere’s disease, periods of remission are possible, but most patients experience some degree of permanent hearing loss over time. Only about 10% of people have spontaneous remissions lasting more than 2 years (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 2017). Long-term management focuses on symptom relief through medications, diet changes, and devices like hearing aids. Patients benefit from joining support groups and learning coping strategies to improve quality of life.

While frustrating, even substantial low frequency hearing loss can often be remediated with proper hearing aid fitting and auditory rehabilitation. Many now choose combined electric-acoustic stimulation systems for severe cases. With appropriate help and support, the prognosis for maintaining good communication ability is positive.


Overall, low ear volume can be caused by a range of issues like excessive wax buildup, eardrum damage, aging, and more. The key symptoms are difficulty hearing, muffled sounds, and having to turn up the volume on devices. While frustrating, there are solutions available through medical treatment, lifestyle changes, and assistive devices. The most important takeaway is that low ear volume should be evaluated by an audiologist or ENT doctor to identify the cause and implement an appropriate treatment plan. With the right approach, quality of life can be improved. Though challenging at times, remaining optimistic and proactive will help patients adjust to and manage their low ear volume.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *