You’re having a Zoom call with your granddaughter and you’ve been looking forward to it all week! 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 discouraged.
Modern marvels muffled
It’s well known that you can experience crystal clear sound with modern hearing aids. So it can be really, really frustrating when that doesn’t happen. You’re supposed to have clearer hearing when you’re using hearing aids, right? But, recently, every time you’ve turned your hearing aids on, everything has sounded muffled and distorted (and that’s definitely not an improvement over your regular hearing). The hearing aid itself may not even be the issue.
What’s the cause of that muffling?
So why do voices sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher if your hearing aids are working correctly? Well, there are a few things you can do to try to fix the issue.
If I had a nickel for every problem that earwax has caused (in general, not me personally), I’d be a rich (but still cranky) man. Earwax may have accumulated against the microphone and that may be the source of your trouble. The earwax interferes with your hearing aid’s ability to pick up sound and, thus, the amplification is muffled.
You might be able to tell if earwax is the issue by:
- Power-up the hearing aid. If the start-up music 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).
- Doing a visual assessment. In other words, take a good look at the device before you put it in your ear. Clean it completely if you see any earwax.
Conversely, it’s possible that earwax in your ear rather than on the hearing aid is the problem here. 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). The troubleshooting will need to continue if the muffled sound lingers even after you’ve cleaned your ears and your hearing aid.
So, if earwax isn’t the problem, the next likely reason will be an infection. Sometimes, this could be a standard ear infection. Or it might be an inner ear infection. Both are worth scheduling an appointment for an evaluation.
Inflammation of the ear canal and middle ear can be the result of both kinds of infection. This inflammation blocks the transmission of sound and, consequently, your hearing is muffled. Treatments may include some antibiotics. Once the infection clears, your hearing should go back to normal.
It’s also very possible that your hearing aid batteries need to be changed. Hearing aids can sound muffled when the batteries get low so make sure you watch for that. This is true even if you have rechargeable batteries. It’s possible, in many situations, that your hearing aids will become crystal clear again after you switch out the batteries with new ones.
It might also be feasible that your hearing loss has changed and your hearing aids need to be reprogrammed to compensate for that. Think about scheduling an appointment for a hearing test if you haven’t had one in the last year. Not only will you be able to be certain 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 certainly worth taking some time to come in and see us. If the muffled sounds linger, you could find yourself using your hearing aids less (or turning up the volume on your TV again). Your hearing could then begin to sustain additional damage.
Letting it linger is not a wise plan. If you can’t clear out some earwax and get hearing again, schedule a hearing test with us today and get everything cleared up before your next family get-together. If you can actually hear what everyone is saying you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more.