You’ve been anticipating this all week: a Zoom call with your son and daughter-in-law. You’ll be able to get caught up, check-in, and, laugh.
But when you get online you realize, to your horror and frustration, that you can’t hear properly. You’re wearing your hearing aids but things still sound muffled.
You’re incredibly frustrated.
Modern marvels muffled
Modern hearing aids are famous for their ability to produce very clear sounds. So when that doesn’t happen, that can be really depressing. Hearing aids are designed to help you hear better, 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 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 functioning properly? Well, there are a few 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. Earwax might have accumulated against the microphone and that may be the source of your problem. Amplification is muffled when earwax hinders your hearing aid’s ability to pick up sound.
Here are some indications that earwax may be the problem.:
- Doing a visual assessment. Don’t simply put your hearing aid in without taking 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 accumulation) and not the speaker if all of the start-up sounds are normal when you turn on the hearing aid.
Conversely, it’s possible that earwax in your ear rather than on the hearing aid is the issue here. 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). If the muffled issue remains once you’ve cleaned up your hearing aid and your ears, you’ll have to continue troubleshooting.
So, if earwax isn’t the problem, the next likely reason is going to be an infection. 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.
Ear infections of several kinds and causes can create inflammation in your ear canal or middle ear. This swelling blocks the transmission of sound and, therefore, the sound you’re hearing is muffled. Usually, antibiotics will clear this type of infection up. As soon as the infection has cleared, your hearing should go back to normal.
It’s also very 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 should be something to keep an eye on). This is true even if you have rechargeable batteries. It’s possible, in many instances, that your hearing aids will become crystal clear again after you replace the batteries with fresh ones.
If you’re still having difficulty hearing, don’t discount the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. Consider scheduling an appointment for a hearing examination if you haven’t had one in the last year. Not only will you be able to make sure your hearing aids are correctly programmed, but we will also be able to do a professional clean and check on your device.
Don’t let it linger
It’s certainly a good idea to come see us for a consultation if you’ve tried all this and your hearing aid still sounds muffled. If the muffled sounds linger, you could find yourself using your hearing aids less (or cranking up the volume on your TV again). And all of that could begin renewed hearing damage.
So, don’t let it linger. Make an appointment with us so you can get back to hearing before that big family get-together. You’ll enjoy yourself more if you can actually hear what they’re saying!