You’ve been anticipating this all week: a Zoom call with your son and daughter-in-law. You’ll have a blast and get caught up with your cherished family members.
But when you log in you notice, to your sadness and disappointment, that you can’t hear very well. Your hearing aids are in, but everything sounds muffled.
You can’t believe how disappointed you are.
Modern marvels muffled
Modern hearing aids are celebrated for their ability to provide very clear sounds. So it can be really, really frustrating when that doesn’t happen. You should 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 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 few 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. Earwax may have built up against the microphone and that may be the source of your trouble. The earwax interferes with your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound and, thus, the amplification is muffled.
You might be able to tell if earwax is the problem by:
- Visually look over your hearing aids. Don’t just put your hearing aid in without getting a good look at it. Clean it thoroughly if you see any earwax.
- 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 turn on the hearing aid.
It’s also possible that earwax has built up not on your hearing aid but inside of your ear. Be sure, in those cases, you safely clean out your ears (cotton swabs are not recommended). The troubleshooting will need 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 think about if earwax isn’t accountable. In many cases, this could be a standard ear infection. Or it might be an inner ear infection. In both cases, a hearing evaluation is suggested.
Ear infections of several kinds and causes can produce swelling in your ear canal or middle ear. This inflammation blocks the transmission of sound and, consequently, your hearing is muffled. Typical, antibiotics will clear this type of infection up. Once the infection has cleared, your hearing will usually return to normal.
You just need to change your battery. As hearing aids drain, they sometimes start to sound, well, muffled (you can see why this would be something to check). This is true even if your batteries are rechargeable. Sometimes, changing the batteries with fresh 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. 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 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 your hearing is still muffled, it’s certainly worth taking some time to come in for a consultation. You might find yourself leaving your hearing aids in a drawer and turning your TV up again if you don’t resolve this muffling issue. Your hearing may then start to sustain further damage.
Letting it linger is not a smart plan. Schedule an appointment with us so you can get back to hearing before that big family get-together. If you can actually hear what they’re saying you’ll you’ll have a lot more fun.