My Hearing Sounds 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’re having a Zoom call with your granddaughter and you’ve been anticipating it all week! You’ll be able to catch up, check-in, and, laugh.

But when the call starts, you are mortified to realize, you can’t hear what your family members are saying. Your hearing aids are in, but everything sounds muffled.

You’re incredibly disappointed.

Modern marvels muffled

It’s well recognized that you can achieve crystal clear sound with modern hearing aids. So when that doesn’t happen, that can be really depressing. You’re supposed to have clearer hearing with hearing aids, right? But your hearing aids aren’t improving your hearing. In fact, they’re making everything sound muffled. The issue might not be the hearing aid at all.

Why do my hearing aids sound muffled?

So why do voices sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher if your hearing aids are functioning correctly? Well, there are a few things you can do to correct the problem.

Earwax

If I had a dime for every problem that earwax has caused (in general, not me personally), I’d be a rich (but still cranky) man. Earwax might have built up against the microphone and that could be the source of your trouble. The earwax impedes your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound and, thus, the amplification is muffled.

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

  • Doing a visual assessment. In other words, have a good look at the device before you put it in your ear. If you see earwax, try to remove it.
  • Power-up the hearing aid. If the start-up music and dings all sound fine, but speech is later muffled, the problem is probably with the microphone and not the speaker (and wax is the most likely culprit).

It’s also possible that earwax has accumulated not on your hearing aid but inside of your ear. Be sure, in those situations, you safely clean out your ears (cotton swabs are not recommended). The troubleshooting will need to continue if the muffled sound persists even after you’ve cleaned your ears and your hearing aid.

Infection

Infection will be the next thing to consider if earwax isn’t accountable. Sometimes, this could be a common ear infection. Or it might be an inner ear infection. In both situations, a hearing assessment is recommended.

Ear infections of several kinds and causes can create inflammation in your ear canal or middle ear. Your hearing will then sound muffled as this inflammation blocks the transmission of sound. Treatments might include some antibiotics. Once the infection clears, your hearing will usually go back to normal.

Batteries

You just need to change your battery. As hearing aids drain, they sometimes start to sound, well, muffled (you can see why this would be something to check). This is still true even if your batteries are rechargeable. It’s possible, in many situations, that your hearing aids will become crystal clear again after you switch out the batteries with new ones.

Hearing loss

It could also be possible that your hearing loss has changed and your hearing aids need to be reprogrammed to compensate for that. If you haven’t had a hearing exam in the last year or so, consider scheduling an appointment. 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 nothing really helps, it’s definitely worth taking some time to come in and see us. If the muffled sounds linger, you might find yourself wearing your hearing aids less (or cranking up the volume on your TV again). And all of that could start renewed hearing damage.

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 everyone is 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.