You’ve been looking forward to this all week: a Zoom call with your son and daughter-in-law. You’ll have a blast and get caught up with your beloved family members.
But when the call starts, you are mortified to find out, you can’t hear what your family members are saying. Your hearing aids are in, but everything sounds muffled.
You’re incredibly disappointed.
Modern marvels muffled
It’s well recognized that you can achieve crystal clear sound with modern hearing aids. So it can be really, really frustrating when that doesn’t occur. You’re supposed to have better hearing with hearing aids, 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 might not even be the issue.
What’s the cause of that muffling?
So why do voices sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher if your hearing aids are functioning correctly? Well, there are a couple of things you can do to try to fix the issue.
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. The issue with your hearing aid may be a build-up of earwax against the microphone. The earwax impedes your hearing aid’s ability to pick up sound and, thus, the amplification is muffled.
Here are some indications that earwax could be the issue.:
- Power-up the hearing aid. The problem is likely to be the microphone (probably wax buildup) and not the speaker if all of the start-up sounds are normal when you turn on the hearing aid.
- Visually inspect your hearing aids. Don’t just put your hearing aid in without taking a good look at it. Clean it thoroughly if you notice any earwax.
Alternatively, it’s possible that earwax in your ear rather than on the hearing aid is the issue here. Be sure, in those cases, you safely clean out your ears (cotton swabs are not recommended). The troubleshooting will have to continue if the muffled sound remains even after you’ve cleaned your ears and your hearing aid.
Infection will be the next thing to consider if earwax isn’t responsible. In many cases, this could be a standard ear infection. Or it may be an inner ear infection. In both cases, a hearing evaluation is recommended.
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 inflammation blocks the transmission of sound. Management might include some antibiotics. Once the infection clears, 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 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 be true. Sometimes, replacing 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 adjusted to make up for that. If you haven’t had your hearing tested in the last year or so, consider making an appointment. While you’re here having your hearing aid reprogrammed we can also do an inspection and cleaning.
Don’t let it linger
It’s certainly a smart plan to come in for a consultation if you’ve tried all this and your hearing aid is still muffled. If the muffled sounds linger, you could find yourself wearing your hearing aids less (or cranking up the volume on your TV again). Your hearing may then start to sustain additional damage.
So, don’t let it linger. If you can’t clear out some earwax and get hearing again, schedule a hearing test with us right away and get everything taken care of before your next family get-together. If you can actually hear what they’re saying you’ll you’ll have a lot more fun.