You’ve been looking forward to this all week: a Zoom call with your grandchildren. You’ll have a blast and get caught up with your beloved family members.
But when you get online you notice, to your sadness and frustration, that you can’t hear very well. Your hearing aids are in, but everything seems muffled.
You’re incredibly discouraged.
Modern marvels muffled
It’s well recognized that you can experience crystal clear sound with modern hearing aids. So when that doesn’t happen, that can be very depressing. You should have better 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 definitely not an improvement over your normal hearing). The hearing aid itself may not even be the issue.
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 several things you can do to correct the problem.
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. The issue with your hearing aid might be a build-up of earwax against the microphone. Amplification is muffled when earwax blocks your hearing aid’s ability to pick up sound.
Here are some indications that earwax may be the issue.:
- 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.
- Visually look over your hearing aids. In other words, have a good look at the device before you put it in your ear. Clean it completely if you notice any earwax.
It’s also possible that earwax has built up not on your hearing aid but inside of 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). If the muffled issue persists once you’ve cleaned up your hearing aid and your ears, you’ll need to continue troubleshooting.
Infection will be the next thing to think about if earwax isn’t accountable. This could be a normal ear infection. Sometimes, it may be an inner ear infection. Both are worth scheduling an appointment for an evaluation.
Ear infections of various kinds and causes can generate swelling in your ear canal or middle ear. This swelling blocks the transmission of sound and, therefore, your hearing is muffled. Typical, antibiotics will clear this kind of infection up. When the infection has cleared, your hearing should return to normal.
It’s also altogether possible that your hearing aid batteries are in need to be charged. As hearing aids drain, they sometimes start to sound, well, muffled (you can see why this should be something to check). Even if you have rechargeable batteries this can be true. It’s possible, in many situations, that your hearing aids will be crystal clear again after you replace the batteries with new ones.
If you’re still having trouble hearing, don’t discount the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. If you haven’t had a hearing exam in the last year or so, think about scheduling an appointment. Not only will you be able to make sure your hearing aids are properly 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 for a consultation. You might find yourself putting your hearing aids in a drawer and cranking your TV up again if you don’t resolve this muffling problem. 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 event. You’ll enjoy yourself more if you can actually hear what everyone is saying!