You’re having a Zoom call with your grandchild and you’ve been anticipating it all week! You’ll be able to get caught up, check-in, and, have a laugh.
But when the call starts, you are horrified to realize, you can’t hear what your family members are saying. You’re wearing your hearing aids but things still sound muffled.
You’re incredibly frustrated.
Modern marvels muffled
It’s well known that you can experience crystal clear sound with modern hearing aids. So it can be really, really aggravating when that doesn’t occur. You’re supposed to have clearer hearing when you’re using 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 normal hearing). The problem might not be the hearing aid at all.
What’s causing that muffling?
Ok, so, if the hearing aid is working properly, why does everybody sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher? Well, there are a couple of things you can do to try to fix the issue.
You’d be rich if you had a nickel for every time earwax caused trouble. The issue with your hearing aid may be a build-up of earwax against the microphone. The earwax impedes your hearing aid’s ability to pick up sound and, thus, the amplification is muffled.
Here are some signs that earwax could be the issue.:
- Turning the hearing aid on. If the start-up songs and dings all sound fine, but speech is later muffled, the issue is probably with the microphone and not the speaker (and wax is the most likely reason).
- Visually look over your hearing aids. In other words, take a good look at the hearing aid before you put it in your ear. If you notice any earwax, try to clean it off.
It’s also possible that earwax has built up not on your hearing aid but in your ear. In those situations, 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 lingers even after you’ve cleaned your ears and your hearing aid.
Infection will be the next thing to think about if earwax isn’t responsible. In many cases, this could be a standard ear infection. Or it might be an inner ear infection. In both instances, a hearing evaluation is recommended.
Inflammation 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. Normally, antibiotics will clear this type of infection up. When the infection has cleared, your hearing will usually go back to normal.
It’s also altogether possible that your hearing aid batteries are in need to be charged. As hearing aids lose power, they sometimes start to sound, well, muffled (you can see why this would be something to check). Even if you have rechargeable batteries this can be true. Sometimes, switching out the batteries with fresh ones can make your hearing aids sound crystal clear again.
If you’re still having difficulty hearing, don’t ignore the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. If you haven’t had a hearing exam in the last year or so, think about making an appointment. Not only will you be able to make sure your hearing aids are correctly 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 and see us. If your muffled hearing lingers, you could find yourself wearing your hearing aids less (or turning up the volume on your TV again). And all of that could start causing hearing damage again.
Letting it linger is not a good idea. If you are unable to clear out some earwax and get hearing again, schedule a hearing test 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 they’re saying!