You’ve been waiting for this all week: a Zoom call with your son and daughter-in-law. You’ll have a blast and catch-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. You’re wearing your hearing aids but you still can’t hear anything.
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’re supposed to have better hearing with hearing aids, right? But your hearing aids are not improving your hearing. Actually, they’re making everything sound muffled. The problem may not be the hearing aid at all.
What’s the cause of that muffling?
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 try to fix the issue.
You’d be rich if you had a nickel for every time earwax caused trouble. The problem with your hearing aid could be an accumulation of earwax against the microphone. The earwax inhibits your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound and, hence, the amplification is muffled.
You may be able to determine if earwax is the issue by:
- Turning the hearing aid on. If the start-up songs and dings all sound fine, but speech is later muffled, the problem is likely with the microphone and not the speaker (and wax is the likely reason).
- Doing a visual assessment. Don’t just put your hearing aid in without getting a good look at it. Clean it thoroughly if you notice any earwax.
It’s also possible that earwax has accumulated not on your hearing aid but in your ear. Make sure, in those situations, you safely clean out your ears (cotton swabs are not recommended). If the muffled issue remains once you’ve cleaned up your hearing aid and your ears, you’ll have to keep troubleshooting.
So, if earwax isn’t the issue, the next likely culprit will be an infection. In many cases, this could be a standard ear infection. Or it may be an inner ear infection. Both are worth making an appointment for an assessment.
Ear infections of various kinds and causes can generate swelling in your ear canal or middle ear. Your hearing will then sound muffled as this inflammation blocks the transmission of sound. Normally, antibiotics will clear this type of infection up. Once the infection has cleared, your hearing will usually go back to normal.
It’s also very possible that your hearing aid batteries need to be changed. As hearing aids lose power, they sometimes begin to sound, well, muffled (you can see why this should be something to keep an eye on). Even if your hearing aids are rechargeable this can be true. Sometimes, switching out the batteries with fresh ones can make your hearing aids sound crystal clear again.
It may also be possible that your hearing loss has changed and your hearing aids need to be reprogrammed to make up for that. Think about making an appointment for a hearing exam if you haven’t had one in the past year. While you’re here getting your hearing aid reprogrammed we can also do an inspection and cleaning.
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 for a consultation. You may find yourself putting your hearing aids in a drawer and cranking your TV up again if you don’t eliminate this muffling problem. Your hearing could then start to sustain additional 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 have more fun if you can actually hear what they’re saying!