You’ve been looking forward to this all week: a Zoom call with your grandchildren. You’ll be able to catch up, check-in, and, have a laugh.
But when you get online you notice, to your horror and frustration, that you can’t hear very well. Your hearing aids are in, but everything sounds muffled.
You can’t believe how discouraged you are.
Modern marvels muffled
It’s well known that you can attain crystal clear sound with modern hearing aids. So when that doesn’t happen, that can be really depressing. You should have clearer hearing when you’re using hearing aids, right? But your hearing aids are not improving your hearing. In fact, they’re making everything sound muffled. The issue may not be the hearing aid at all.
What’s the cause of that muffling?
Ok, so, if the hearing aid is functioning properly, why does everybody sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher? Well, there are a couple of things you can do to try to right the ship, as it were.
If I had a nickel for every issue 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 pick up sound and, thus, the amplification is muffled.
You may be able to tell if earwax is the problem by:
- Visually inspect your hearing aids. Don’t simply put your hearing aid in without taking a good look at it. If you notice any earwax, try to remove it.
- 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 turn on the hearing aid.
It’s also possible that earwax has accumulated not on your hearing aid but inside of your ear. Make sure, in those cases, you safely clean out your ears (cotton swabs are not recommended). If the muffled problem remains after you’ve cleaned up your hearing aid and your ears, you’ll need to keep troubleshooting.
Infection will be the next thing to think about if earwax isn’t accountable. In many cases, this could be a common ear infection. Or it may be an inner ear infection. Both are worth setting up 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 swelling blocks the transmission of sound. Management may include some antibiotics. Once the infection clears, your hearing will usually return to normal.
You just need to change your battery. Hearing aids can sound muffled when the batteries are drained so make sure you check for that. Even if your hearing aids are rechargeable 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 making an appointment for a hearing test if you haven’t had one in the last year. While you’re here having your hearing aid adjusted we can also do an inspection and cleaning.
Don’t let it linger
If you try all this troubleshooting and nothing really helps, it’s definitely worth taking some time to come in and see us. You might find yourself leaving your hearing aids in a drawer and turning your TV up again if you don’t eliminate this muffling issue. Your hearing could then begin to sustain additional damage.
Letting it linger is not a smart plan. If you are unable to clean out some earwax and get hearing again, schedule a hearing exam with us right away and get everything taken care of before your next family get-together. You’ll enjoy yourself more if you can actually hear what everyone is saying!