You’re having a Zoom call with your granddaughter and you’ve been waiting for it all week! You’ll have a blast and get caught up with your beloved family members.
But when the call starts, you are horrified to find out, you can’t hear what your loved ones are saying. Your hearing aids are in, but everything sounds muffled.
You can’t believe how frustrated you are.
Modern marvels muffled
It’s well known that you can achieve crystal clear sound with modern hearing aids. That’s why it can be really, really frustrating when that doesn’t happen. Hearing aids are supposed to help you hear better, right? But your hearing aids aren’t improving your hearing. In fact, they’re making everything sound muffled. 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 working correctly? Well, there are several things you can do to correct the issue.
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. Earwax may have accumulated against the microphone and that may be the source of your problem. The earwax interferes with your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound and, as a result, the amplification is muffled.
You might be able to determine if earwax is the problem by:
- Visually look over your hearing aids. In other words, take a good look at the hearing aid before you put it in your ear. Clean it completely if you notice any earwax.
- Turning the hearing aid on. The issue 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.
It’s also possible that earwax has built up not on your hearing aid but inside of your ear. Make sure, in those situations, you safely clean out your ears (cotton swabs are not recommended). If the muffled issue remains once you’ve cleaned up your hearing aid and your ears, you’ll have to continue troubleshooting.
So, if earwax isn’t the problem, the next likely culprit is going to be an infection. In many cases, this could be a common ear infection. Sometimes, it could be an inner ear infection. Both are worth making an appointment for an evaluation.
Swelling of the ear canal and middle ear can be the result of both kinds of infection. This swelling blocks the transmission of sound and, consequently, your hearing is muffled. Management might include some antibiotics. When the infection has cleared, your hearing will usually return to normal.
It’s also entirely possible that your hearing aid batteries need to be changed. As hearing aids lose power, they sometimes start to sound, well, muffled (you can see why this should be something to keep an eye on). Even if your hearing aids are rechargeable this can still be true. Sometimes, replacing the batteries with fresh ones can make your hearing aids sound crystal clear again.
If you’re still having difficulty hearing, don’t dismiss the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. Consider making an appointment for a hearing test if you haven’t had one in the past year. 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
If you try all this troubleshooting and nothing really helps, it’s certainly worth taking some time to come in and see us. You may find yourself putting your hearing aids in a drawer and turning your TV up again if you don’t eliminate this muffling problem. Your hearing may then start to sustain additional damage.
So, don’t let it linger. If you can’t 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 have more fun if you can actually hear what they’re saying!