You’re having a Zoom call with your grandchild and you’ve been looking forward to it all week! You’ll be able to get caught up, check-in, and, laugh.
But when you get online you notice, to your sadness and disappointment, that you can’t hear very well. Your hearing aids are in, but everything sounds muffled.
You’re incredibly discouraged.
Modern marvels muffled
Modern hearing aids are celebrated for their ability to provide crystal clear sounds. So it can be really, really discouraging when that doesn’t happen. You’re supposed to have clearer hearing with hearing aids, right? But, lately, every time you’ve used your hearing aids, everything has sounded muffled and distorted (and that’s certainly not an improvement over your regular hearing). The hearing aid itself may not even be the issue.
What’s causing that muffling?
So why do voices sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher if your hearing aids are working correctly? Well, there are a few things you can do to try to right the ship, as it were.
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 a build-up of earwax against the microphone. Amplification is muffled when earwax hinders your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound.
You may be able to determine if earwax is the issue by:
- Turning the hearing aid on. 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 inspection. Don’t just put your hearing aid in without taking a good look at it. Clean it thoroughly if you notice any earwax.
It’s also possible that earwax has accumulated not on your hearing aid but in your ear. In those instances, make sure to clean out your ears in a safe way (a cotton swab, by the way, is not a safe way). If the muffled problem remains after you’ve cleaned up your hearing aid and your ears, you’ll need to continue troubleshooting.
So, if earwax isn’t the issue, the next likely culprit will be an infection. This could be a normal ear infection. Or it might be an inner ear infection. Both are worth setting up an appointment for an assessment.
Ear infections of various kinds and causes can create swelling in your ear canal or middle ear. Your hearing will then sound muffled as this swelling blocks the transmission of sound. Management might include some antibiotics. When the infection has cleared, your hearing should go back to normal.
You just have to change your battery. Hearing aids can sound muffled when the batteries get low so be sure to watch for that. Even if you have rechargeable batteries this can be true. It’s possible, in many situations, that your hearing aids will become crystal clear again after you replace the batteries with fresh ones.
It could also be possible that your hearing loss has changed and your hearing aids need to be adjusted to compensate for that. If you haven’t had a hearing exam in the last year or so, consider making an appointment. Not only will you be able to make sure your hearing aids are properly tuned, but we will also be able to do a professional clean and check on your device.
Don’t let it linger
It’s certainly a smart plan to come see us for a consultation if you’ve tried all this and your hearing aid is still muffled. If your muffled hearing lingers, you might find yourself using your hearing aids less (or turning up the volume on your TV again). Your hearing could then start to sustain additional damage.
Letting it linger is not a smart idea. If you are unable to clean 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 event. You’ll have more fun if you can actually hear what they’re saying!