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Happy mature middle aged adult woman wearing hearing aids waving hand holding digital tablet computer video conference calling by social distance virtual family online chat meeting sitting on couch at home

You’re having a Zoom call with your grandchild and you’ve been waiting for it all week! You’ll have a great time and catch-up with your beloved family members.

But when the call begins, you are mortified to realize, you can’t hear what your loved ones are saying. Your hearing aids are in, but everything seems muffled.

You can’t believe how discouraged you are.

Modern marvels muffled

Modern hearing aids are known for their ability to produce very clear sounds. So when that doesn’t occur, that can be very discouraging. Hearing aids are supposed to help you hear better, right? But, lately, 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 problem may not be the hearing aid at all.

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 a few things you can do to correct the problem.

Earwax

You’d be rich if you had a dime for every time earwax caused trouble. Earwax might have accumulated against the microphone and that may be the source of your problem. Amplification is muffled when earwax hinders your hearing aid’s ability to pick up sound.

You might be able to tell if earwax is the problem by:

  • Turning the hearing aid on. If the start-up songs and dings all sound normal, but speech is later muffled, the problem is probably with the microphone and not the speaker (and wax is the most likely culprit).
  • Visually look over your hearing aids. Don’t just put your hearing aid in without taking a good look at it. If you see earwax, try to clean it off.

Alternatively, it’s possible that earwax in your ear and not on the hearing aid is the problem 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). If the muffled problem continues once you’ve cleaned up your hearing aid and your ears, you’ll need to keep troubleshooting.

Infection

Infection will be the next thing to consider if earwax isn’t accountable. Sometimes, this could be a common ear infection. Or it might be an inner ear infection. Both are worth scheduling an appointment for an assessment.

Ear infections of various kinds and causes can produce inflammation in your ear canal or middle ear. This swelling blocks the transmission of sound and, consequently, the sound you’re hearing is muffled. Management might include some antibiotics. Once the infection has cleared, your hearing will usually return to normal.

Batteries

It’s also entirely possible that your hearing aid batteries need to be changed. Hearing aids can sound muffled when the batteries get low so be sure to watch for that. Even if your hearing aids are rechargeable this can still be true. It’s possible, in many instances, that your hearing aids will become crystal clear again after you replace the batteries with new ones.

Hearing loss

It might also be possible that your hearing loss has changed and your hearing aids need to be adjusted to compensate for that. Consider scheduling an appointment for a hearing test 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

If you try all this troubleshooting and your hearing is still muffled, it’s definitely worth taking some time to come in for a consultation. If the muffled sounds linger, you could find yourself using your hearing aids less (or cranking up the volume on your TV again). And all of that could begin causing hearing damage again.

So, don’t let it linger. If you are unable to clean out some earwax and get hearing again, schedule a hearing test with us right away and get everything cleared up before your next family event. You’ll enjoy yourself more if you can actually hear what everyone is saying!

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.