You’ve been anticipating this all week: a Zoom call with your grandchildren. You’ll be able to catch up, check-in, and, laugh.
But when the call starts, you are mortified to realize, you can’t hear what your loved ones are saying. Your hearing aids are in, but everything sounds muffled.
You’re incredibly discouraged.
Modern marvels muffled
It’s well recognized that you can experience crystal clear sound with modern hearing aids. So when that doesn’t occur, that can be really frustrating. You’re supposed to have better hearing with hearing aids, right? But, recently, every time you’ve used your hearing aids, everything has sounded muffled and distorted (and that’s definitely not an improvement over your regular hearing). The hearing aid itself may not even be the issue.
What’s causing that muffling?
Ok, so, if the hearing aid is working properly, why does everybody sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher? Well, there are a few things you can do to correct the problem.
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 problem with your hearing aid might be an accumulation of earwax against the microphone. Amplification is muffled when earwax obstructs your hearing aid’s ability to pick up sound.
You may be able to determine if earwax is the problem by:
- Turning the hearing aid on. 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 power-up the hearing aid.
- Doing a visual inspection. 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.
Alternatively, it’s possible that earwax in your ear and not on the hearing aid is the issue here. Be sure, in those instances, you safely clean out your ears (cotton swabs are not recommended). If the muffled problem continues once you’ve cleaned up your hearing aid and your ears, you’ll have to keep troubleshooting.
Infection will be the next thing to consider if earwax isn’t responsible. This could be a common ear infection. Or it may be an inner ear infection. Both are worth scheduling an appointment for an evaluation.
Inflammation 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. Treatments may include some antibiotics. Once the infection has cleared, your hearing will usually go back to normal.
You just need to change your battery. As hearing aids lose power, they sometimes begin to sound, well, muffled (you can see why this would 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.
If you’re still having problems hearing, don’t ignore the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. Consider scheduling an appointment for a hearing exam if you haven’t had one in the last year. 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 the muffled sounds linger, you may find yourself wearing your hearing aids less (or cranking up the volume on your TV again). Your hearing may then begin to sustain further damage.
So, don’t let it linger. Make an appointment with us so you can get back to hearing before that big family event. You’ll have more fun if you can actually hear what everyone is saying!