You’ve been looking forward to this all week: a Zoom call with your son and daughter-in-law. You’ll be able to get caught up, check-in, and, have a laugh.
But when you get online you notice, to your horror and disappointment, that you can’t hear very well. You’re wearing your hearing aids but things still sound muffled.
You can’t believe how discouraged you are.
Modern marvels muffled
Modern hearing aids are known for their ability to deliver crystal clear sounds. That’s why it can be really, really discouraging when that doesn’t happen. You’re supposed to have better hearing when you’re using hearing aids, right? But, lately, every time you’ve turned your hearing aids on, everything has sounded muffled and distorted (and that’s certainly not an improvement over your normal hearing). The issue might not be the hearing aid at all.
Why do my hearing aids sound muffled?
So why do voices sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher if your hearing aids are working correctly? Well, there are a couple of things you can do to try to right the ship, as it were.
If I had a dime for every issue that earwax has caused (in general, not me personally), I’d be a rich (but still cranky) man. Earwax may have built up against the microphone and that may be the source of your trouble. The earwax interferes with your hearing aid’s ability to pick up sound and, hence, the amplification is muffled.
Here are some indications that earwax could be the issue.:
- Turning the hearing aid on. If the start-up songs and dings all sound normal, but speech is later muffled, the issue is probably with the microphone and not the speaker (and wax is the most likely culprit).
- Doing a visual check. Don’t simply put your hearing aid in without taking a good look at it. Clean it completely if you notice any earwax.
Alternatively, it’s possible that earwax in your ear rather than on the hearing aid is the issue here. 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). The troubleshooting will have to continue if the muffled sound remains even after you’ve cleaned your ears and your hearing aid.
So, if earwax isn’t the problem, the next likely culprit is going to be an infection. This could be a normal ear infection. Or it may be an inner ear infection. Both are worth setting up an appointment for an evaluation.
Ear infections of various kinds and causes can generate swelling in your ear canal or middle ear. This swelling blocks the transmission of sound and, therefore, your hearing is muffled. Normally, antibiotics will clear this type of infection up. When the infection has cleared, your hearing should go back to normal.
You just have to change your battery. As hearing aids drain, they sometimes start to sound, well, muffled (you can see why this should be something to keep an eye on). Even if your hearing aids are rechargeable this can be true. Sometimes, switching out the batteries with new ones can make your hearing aids sound crystal clear again.
It may also be feasible that your hearing loss has changed and your hearing aids need to be reprogrammed to compensate for that. Think about making an appointment for a hearing exam if you haven’t had one in the past year. While you’re here having your hearing aid adjusted we can also do an inspection and cleaning.
Don’t let it linger
It’s definitely a smart plan to come see us for a consultation if you’ve tried all this and your hearing aid still sounds muffled. You might find yourself putting your hearing aids in a drawer and cranking your TV up again if you don’t resolve this muffling issue. And all of that could begin causing hearing damage again.
Letting it linger is not a smart plan. Schedule an appointment with us so you can get back to hearing before that big family get-together. You’ll have more fun if you can actually hear what everyone is saying!