At some point in your life you’ll probably experience your hearing going in and out. One second everything may be fine and then another sounds and noises seem muted or less audible.
There are only a few explanations for why hearing keeps going in and out, which I’ll discuss below.
Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (Ear Barotrauma)
There is a small tube that connects from the middle ear space to the back of the nose. This tube opens and closes to allow the pressure to equalize between the outside air and the space behind the eardrum. You will notice your Eustachian tube on an airplane when you are landing and taking off. The air pressure is changing quickly in this case so your Eustachian tube has to work extra hard to equalize the pressure behind your eardrum.
If your Eustachian tube is not working properly, then your ear will start to feel plugged up and it will begin to affect your hearing. The most common reasons for Eustachian Tube Dysfunction is a cold or sinus infection. Since your sinuses are clogged, your Eustachian Tube is not able to open properly. Most likely, when this clears, your Eustachian tube will open and you will notice an improvement in hearing.
Fluctuating Hearing Loss
This is not very common, but does occur sometimes in people with Meniere’s Disease. One of the common traits of Meniere’s Disease is a change in hearing, usually in one ear. You may notice your hearing in the affected ear going in and out for a period of time. This change in hearing will most likely last days rather than minutes or hours.
Exposure to Loud Noise
If you have been around a very loud noise for any period of time, you may notice a temporary change in hearing. This is called a temporary threshold shift (TTS). It occurs when your ears are exposed to loud sounds, such as a concert, gunfire, or loud machinery, to name a few. Once your ear starts to recover from this loud noise exposure you will notice a gradual return in hearing.
Wax In Your Ears
Wax build-up in your ears can cause hearing loss. Most likely this will be a constant hearing loss until the wax is removed, but in some cases it may cause your hearing to go in and out.
Your ear canal changes shape when you open your jaw such as when chewing or yawning. If your ear canal is changing shape, the wax build-up may also shift in your ear canal. This may cause a change in hearing.
If you are experiencing a change in hearing, or your hearing keeps going in and out, it is important that you see an ENT physician or an Audiologist to be evaluated.