You’ve been looking forward to this all week: a Zoom call with your son and daughter-in-law. You’ll be able to catch up, check-in, and, laugh.
But when you get online you realize, to your sadness and disappointment, 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 known for their ability to provide very clear sounds. So it can be really, really aggravating when that doesn’t happen. You’re supposed to 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 hearing aid itself might not even be the issue.
What’s the cause of that muffling?
All right, so, if the hearing aid is working properly, why does everybody sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher? Well, there are several things you can do to fix 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 may be a build-up of earwax against the microphone. Amplification is muffled when earwax blocks your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound.
You may be able to tell if earwax is the problem by:
- 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.
- Doing a visual inspection. Don’t just put your hearing aid in without taking a good look at it. Clean it completely if you notice any earwax.
It’s also possible that earwax has built up not on your hearing aid but in your ear. In those cases, be certain to clean out your ears in a safe way (a cotton swab, by the way, is not a safe way). 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 consider if earwax isn’t accountable. This could be a normal ear infection. Or it may be an inner ear infection. In both instances, a hearing evaluation is suggested.
Swelling of the ear canal and middle ear can be the result of both kinds of infection. This inflammation blocks the transmission of sound and, therefore, the sound you’re hearing is muffled. Treatments might include some antibiotics. When the infection has cleared, your hearing should go back to normal.
It’s also entirely possible that your hearing aid batteries need to be changed. Hearing aids can sound muffled when the batteries get low so be sure to check for that. This is true even if you have rechargeable batteries. It’s possible, in many cases, that your hearing aids will be crystal clear again after you change the batteries with new ones.
If you’re still having difficulty hearing, don’t ignore the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. Think about making 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
If you try all this troubleshooting and your hearing is still muffled, it’s definitely worth taking some time to come in for a consultation. If your muffled hearing lingers, you may find yourself using your hearing aids less (or turning up the volume on your TV again). Your hearing could then start to sustain further damage.
So, don’t let it linger. If you are unable to clean out some earwax and get hearing again, schedule a hearing assessment with us right away and get everything taken care of before your next family event. You’ll have more fun if you can actually hear what everyone is saying!