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’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, laugh.

But when the call begins, you are horrified to realize, you can’t hear what your loved ones are saying. You’re wearing your hearing aids but you still can’t hear anything.

You’re incredibly discouraged.

Modern marvels muffled

It’s well recognized that you can experience crystal clear sound with modern hearing aids. So it can be really, really aggravating when that doesn’t happen. You should have clearer hearing with hearing aids, right? But your hearing aids are not helping your hearing. Actually, they’re making everything sound muffled. The hearing aid itself may not even be the issue.

What’s the cause of that muffling?

Ok, so, if the hearing aid is functioning properly, why does everybody sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher? Well, there are a couple of things you can do to try to fix the issue.

Earwax

If I had a nickel for every issue that earwax has caused (in general, not me personally), I’d be a rich (but still cranky) man. The problem with your hearing aid may be an accumulation of earwax against the microphone. The earwax interferes with your hearing aid’s ability to pick up sound and, thus, the amplification is muffled.

You may be able to determine if earwax is the issue by:

  • Power-up the hearing aid. If the start-up songs 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 most likely culprit).
  • Visually inspect your hearing aids. In other words, have a good look at the device before you put it in your ear. If you see earwax, try to remove it.

Conversely, it’s possible that earwax in your ear and not on the hearing aid is the issue here. In those cases, 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 after you’ve cleaned up your hearing aid and your ears, you’ll have to keep troubleshooting.

Infection

So, if earwax isn’t the issue, the next likely reason will be an infection. This could be a normal ear infection. Or it might be an inner ear infection. Both are worth scheduling an appointment for an assessment.

Inflammation of the ear canal and middle ear can be the outcome of both kinds of infection. This swelling blocks the transmission of sound and, consequently, your hearing is muffled. Usually, antibiotics will clear this kind of infection up. Once the infection clears, your hearing will usually return to normal.

Batteries

You just have to change your battery. Hearing aids can sound muffled when the batteries are drained so make sure you check for that. Even if your hearing aids are rechargeable this can still be true. Sometimes, changing the batteries with new ones can make your hearing aids sound crystal clear again.

Hearing loss

If you’re still having trouble hearing, don’t dismiss the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. 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 make sure your hearing aids are correctly tuned, but we will also be able to do a professional clean and check on your device.

Don’t let it linger

It’s definitely a good idea to come see us for a consultation if you’ve tried all this and your hearing aid still sounds muffled. You may find yourself putting your hearing aids in a drawer and turning your TV up again if you don’t eliminate this muffling issue. Your hearing may then begin to sustain further damage.

So, don’t let it linger. If you are unable to clear out some earwax and get hearing again, schedule a hearing assessment 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 they’re 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.

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