You’re having a Zoom call with your grandchild and you’ve been waiting for it all week! You’ll be able to catch up, check-in, and, laugh.
But when the call starts, you are horrified to realize, you can’t hear what your family members are saying. Your hearing aids are in, but everything sounds muffled.
You can’t believe how frustrated you are.
Modern marvels muffled
Modern hearing aids are celebrated for their ability to provide crystal clear sounds. So it can be really, really aggravating when that doesn’t happen. Hearing aids are designed to help you hear better, right? But your hearing aids aren’t improving your hearing. Actually, they’re making everything sound muffled. The hearing aid itself might not even be the problem.
What’s the cause of that muffling?
So why do voices sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher if your hearing aids are working correctly? Well, there are a couple things you can do to correct the issue.
If I had a dime for every problem that earwax has caused (in general, not me personally), I’d be a rich (but still cranky) man. The issue with your hearing aid may be an accumulation of earwax against the microphone. The earwax impedes your hearing aid’s ability to pick up sound and, hence, the amplification is muffled.
You might be able to tell if earwax is the issue by:
- Turning the hearing aid on. If the start-up music and dings all sound normal, but speech is later muffled, the issue is likely with the microphone and not the speaker (and wax is the likely culprit).
- Doing a visual inspection. Don’t simply put your hearing aid in without taking a good look at it. Clean it completely if you notice any earwax.
It’s also possible that earwax has built up not on your hearing aid but in your ear. In those instances, be certain to clean out your ears in a safe way (a cotton swab, by the way, is not a safe way). If the muffled issue continues once you’ve cleaned up your hearing aid and your ears, you’ll have to continue troubleshooting.
So, if earwax isn’t the issue, the next likely reason is going to be an infection. This could be a normal ear infection. Sometimes, it could be an inner ear infection. Both are worth scheduling an appointment for an assessment.
Swelling of the ear canal and middle ear can be the result of both kinds of infection. Your hearing will then sound muffled as this swelling blocks the transmission of sound. Management might include some antibiotics. Once the infection clears, your hearing should go back to normal.
You just need to change your battery. As hearing aids lose power, they sometimes begin to sound, well, muffled (you can see why this should be something to keep an eye on). Even if you have rechargeable batteries this can still be true. Sometimes, replacing the batteries with fresh ones can make your hearing aids sound crystal clear again.
It may also be possible that your hearing loss has changed and your hearing aids need to be adjusted to make up for that. If you haven’t had your hearing tested in the last year or so, think about making an appointment. While you’re here getting your hearing aid adjusted we can also do an inspection and cleaning.
Don’t let it linger
It’s certainly a good idea to come see us for a consultation if you’ve tried all this and your hearing aid is still muffled. If the muffled sounds linger, you may find yourself using your hearing aids less (or cranking up the volume on your TV again). And all of that could begin renewed hearing damage.
So, don’t let it linger. If you are unable to clear out some earwax and get hearing again, schedule a hearing test with us right away and get everything cleared up before your next family get-together. You’ll enjoy yourself more if you can actually hear what they’re saying!