Why Does my Hearing Aid Sound 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’ve been anticipating this all week: a Zoom call with your son and daughter-in-law. You’ll have a great time and get caught up with your beloved family members.

But when you log in you notice, to your sadness and frustration, that you can’t hear properly. 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. That’s why it can be really, really aggravating when that doesn’t occur. You should have better hearing with hearing aids, right? But your hearing aids aren’t helping your hearing. In fact, they’re making everything sound muffled. The problem may not be the hearing aid at all.

What’s the cause of that muffling?

Ok, so, if the hearing aid is working correctly, why does everybody sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher? Well, there are a couple things you can do to correct the issue.

Earwax

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 problem with your hearing aid might 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 problem by:

  • Doing a visual check. In other words, have a good look at the hearing aid before you put it in your ear. Clean it thoroughly if you see any earwax.
  • Power-up the hearing aid. The issue is likely to be the microphone (probably wax accumulation) and not the speaker if all of the start-up sounds are normal when you power-up the hearing aid.

Conversely, it’s possible that earwax in your ear and not on the hearing aid is the issue here. Make sure, in those cases, you safely clean out your ears (cotton swabs are not recommended). If the muffled issue continues after you’ve cleaned up your hearing aid and your ears, you’ll need to keep troubleshooting.

Infection

So, if earwax isn’t the issue, the next likely reason will be an infection. Sometimes, this could be a common ear infection. Or it might be an inner ear infection. Both are worth setting up an appointment for an assessment.

Ear infections of several kinds and causes can generate inflammation 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.

Batteries

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 make sure you check for that. Even if you have rechargeable batteries this can be true. It’s possible, in many cases, that your hearing aids will be crystal clear again after you change the batteries with new ones.

Hearing loss

If you’re still having difficulty hearing, don’t discount the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. If you haven’t had a hearing exam in the last year or so, consider scheduling an appointment. While you’re here getting your hearing aid adjusted we can also do an inspection and cleaning.

Don’t let it linger

It’s certainly a good idea to come see us for a consultation if you’ve tried all this and your hearing aid is still muffled. You may find yourself leaving your hearing aids in a drawer and turning your TV up again if you don’t eliminate this muffling issue. Your hearing could then start to sustain further damage.

Letting it linger is not a good idea. If you can’t clear out some earwax and get hearing again, schedule a hearing examination with us right away and get everything taken care of before your next family event. 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.