You’ve been waiting for this all week: a Zoom call with your son and daughter-in-law. You’ll be able to get caught up, check-in, and, have a laugh.
But when the call starts, you are horrified to find out, you can’t hear what your family members are saying. You’re wearing your hearing aids but things still sound muffled.
You can’t believe how discouraged you are.
Modern marvels muffled
Modern hearing aids are famous for their ability to deliver very clear sounds. So when that doesn’t happen, that can be really frustrating. Hearing aids are designed to help you hear better, right? But, recently, every time you’ve turned your hearing aids on, 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 problem.
What’s the cause of that muffling?
All right, so, if the hearing aid is functioning correctly, why does everybody sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher? 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 might have built up against the microphone and that could be the source of your trouble. The earwax impedes 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 problem by:
- Turning the hearing aid on. The issue 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.
- Visually look over your hearing aids. In other words, have a good look at the hearing aid before you put it in your ear. 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 cases, make sure to clean out your ears in a safe way (a cotton swab, by the way, is not a safe way). The troubleshooting will have to continue if the muffled sound persists even after you’ve cleaned your ears and your hearing aid.
So, if earwax isn’t the problem, the next likely reason will be an infection. 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.
Swelling 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 might include some antibiotics. Once the infection clears, your hearing should go back to normal.
You just need to replace your battery. Hearing aids can sound muffled when the batteries get low so be sure to watch for that. This is true even if your batteries are rechargeable. It’s possible, in many instances, that your hearing aids will be crystal clear again after you replace the batteries with fresh ones.
If you’re still having trouble hearing, don’t dismiss the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. If you haven’t had a hearing exam in the last year or so, consider scheduling an appointment. Not only will you be able to make sure your hearing aids are properly 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 and see us. You may find yourself putting your hearing aids in a drawer and turning your TV up again if you don’t resolve this muffling issue. Your hearing could then begin to sustain additional damage.
Letting it linger is not a smart plan. Make 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.