You’re having a Zoom call with your grandchild and you’ve been looking forward to it all week! You’ll be able to get caught up, check-in, and, laugh.
But when you log in you notice, to your sadness and frustration, that you can’t hear properly. You’re wearing your hearing aids but you still can’t hear anything.
You’re incredibly discouraged.
Modern marvels muffled
Modern hearing aids are celebrated for their ability to provide crystal clear sounds. So it can be really, really frustrating when that doesn’t occur. Hearing aids are designed to help you hear better, 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 normal hearing). The hearing aid itself may not even be the issue.
What’s causing that muffling?
So why do voices sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher if your hearing aids are functioning properly? Well, there are a couple of things you can do to try to right the ship, as it were.
If I had a nickel 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 hinders your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound.
Here are some signs that earwax could be the problem.:
- Doing a visual check. Don’t just put your hearing aid in without getting a good look at it. Clean it thoroughly if you see any earwax.
- Turning the hearing aid on. If the start-up songs and dings all sound fine, but speech is later muffled, the issue is likely with the microphone and not the speaker (and wax is the likely culprit).
Conversely, it’s possible that earwax in your ear and not on the hearing aid is the issue here. In those situations, 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 have to continue if the muffled sound persists even after you’ve cleaned your ears and your hearing aid.
So, if earwax isn’t the problem, the next likely reason is going to be an infection. This could be a common ear infection. Or it might be an inner ear infection. Both are worth making an appointment for an assessment.
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 swelling blocks the transmission of sound. Usually, antibiotics will clear this type of infection up. Once the infection clears, your hearing should go back to normal.
You just need to change your battery. 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 you have rechargeable batteries this can still be true. Sometimes, switching out the batteries with fresh ones can make your hearing aids sound crystal clear again.
If you’re still having difficulty hearing, don’t dismiss the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. Consider scheduling an appointment for a hearing test if you haven’t had one in the last year. While you’re here getting your hearing aid adjusted we can also do an inspection and cleaning.
Don’t let it linger
It’s definitely a smart idea to come see us for a consultation if you’ve tried all this and your hearing aid is still muffled. If the muffled sounds linger, you could find yourself wearing your hearing aids less (or turning up the volume on your TV again). Your hearing may then start to sustain further damage.
Letting it linger is not a wise idea. If you can’t clean out some earwax and get hearing again, schedule a hearing exam with us right away and get everything taken care of before your next family get-together. You’ll have more fun if you can actually hear what everyone is saying!