You’ve been waiting for 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 realize, to your horror and disappointment, that you can’t hear very well. Your hearing aids are in, but everything sounds muffled.
You can’t believe how frustrated you are.
Modern marvels muffled
It’s well known that you can achieve crystal clear sound with modern hearing aids. So when that doesn’t occur, that can be really depressing. Hearing aids are supposed to help you hear better, right? But, recently, every time you’ve turned your hearing aids on, everything has sounded muffled and distorted (and that’s definitely not an improvement over your normal hearing). The hearing aid itself may not even be the problem.
Why do my hearing aids sound muffled?
Ok, so, if the hearing aid is functioning properly, why does everybody sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher? Well, there are several things you can do to correct the issue.
If I had a nickel 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 might be a build-up of earwax against the microphone. Amplification is muffled when earwax hinders your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound.
You might be able to tell if earwax is the problem by:
- Power-up the hearing aid. The problem is likely to be the microphone (probably wax accumulation) and not the speaker if all of the start-up sounds are normal when you power-up the hearing aid.
- Doing a visual assessment. Don’t simply put your hearing aid in without taking a good look at it. Clean it completely if you see any earwax.
It’s also possible that earwax has built up not on your hearing aid but in your ear. In those cases, make sure 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 persists even after you’ve cleaned your ears and your hearing aid.
Infection will be the next thing to consider if earwax isn’t responsible. This could be a common ear infection. Sometimes, it could be an inner ear infection. Both are worth setting up an appointment for an evaluation.
Ear infections of several kinds and causes can produce inflammation in your ear canal or middle ear. Your hearing will then sound muffled as this inflammation blocks the transmission of sound. Typical, antibiotics will clear this type of infection up. Once the infection goes away, your hearing will usually return to normal.
It’s also entirely possible that your hearing aid batteries are in need to be charged. As hearing aids drain, they sometimes start to sound, well, muffled (you can see why this would be something to check). This is true even if your batteries are rechargeable. Sometimes, changing the batteries with new ones can make your hearing aids sound crystal clear again.
It could also be feasible that your hearing loss has changed and your hearing aids need to be reprogrammed to compensate for that. If you haven’t had your hearing tested in the last year or so, consider scheduling an appointment. Not only will you be able to be certain your hearing aids are correctly programmed, but we will also be able to do a professional clean and check on your device.
Don’t let it linger
If you try all this troubleshooting and your hearing is still muffled, it’s certainly worth taking some time to come in for a consultation. If your muffled hearing lingers, you might find yourself using your hearing aids less (or turning up the volume on your TV again). And all of that could start renewed hearing damage.
Letting it linger is not a good idea. 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!