Why Does my Hearing Aid Sound Muffled?

Happy mature middle aged adult woman wearing hearing aids waving hand holding digital tablet computer video conference calling by social distance virtual family online chat meeting sitting on couch at home

You’ve been waiting for this all week: a Zoom call with your son and daughter-in-law. You’ll have a great time and get caught up with your cherished family members.

But when you get online you notice, to your sadness and frustration, that you can’t hear properly. You’re wearing your hearing aids but you still can’t hear anything.

You can’t believe how discouraged you are.

Modern marvels muffled

Modern hearing aids are known for their ability to provide very clear sounds. So it can be really, really aggravating when that doesn’t happen. You should have clearer hearing when you’re using hearing aids, right? But, recently, every time you’ve turned your hearing aids on, everything has sounded muffled and distorted (and that’s certainly not an improvement over your normal hearing). The hearing aid itself may not even be the problem.

What’s causing that muffling?

So why do voices sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher if your hearing aids are working properly? Well, there are a couple things you can do to fix the issue.

Earwax

You’d be rich if you had a dime for every time earwax caused trouble. The problem with your hearing aid could be an accumulation of earwax against the microphone. The earwax inhibits your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound and, hence, the amplification is muffled.

You might be able to tell if earwax is the problem by:

  • Visually inspect your hearing aids. Don’t just put your hearing aid in without getting a good look at it. Clean it completely if you see any earwax.
  • Power-up the hearing aid. 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 power-up the hearing aid.

Conversely, it’s possible that earwax in your ear and not on the hearing aid is the issue here. Be sure, in those cases, you safely clean out your ears (cotton swabs are not recommended). If the muffled issue continues after you’ve cleaned up your hearing aid and your ears, you’ll have to keep troubleshooting.

Infection

So, if earwax isn’t the problem, the next likely culprit will be an infection. In many cases, this could be a common ear infection. Sometimes, it could 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 outcome of both kinds of infection. This swelling blocks the transmission of sound and, therefore, the sound you’re hearing is muffled. Normally, antibiotics will clear this type of infection up. When the infection has cleared, your hearing will usually go back to normal.

Batteries

It’s also altogether possible that your hearing aid batteries need to be changed. As hearing aids drain, they sometimes begin to sound, well, muffled (you can see why this should be something to keep an eye on). This is still true even if your batteries are rechargeable. Sometimes, changing the batteries with fresh ones can make your hearing aids sound crystal clear again.

Hearing loss

It could also be possible that your hearing loss has changed and your hearing aids need to be adjusted to make up for that. If you haven’t had a hearing exam in the last year or so, consider scheduling an appointment. While you’re here having your hearing aid adjusted we can also do an inspection and cleaning.

Don’t let it linger

It’s definitely a good idea to come in for a consultation if you’ve tried all this and your hearing aid still sounds muffled. You might find yourself leaving your hearing aids in a drawer and turning your TV up again if you don’t solve this muffling issue. And all of that could begin causing hearing damage again.

So, don’t let it linger. 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.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.