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’re having a Zoom call with your granddaughter and you’ve been waiting for it all week! You’ll have a blast and catch-up with your beloved family members.

But when you log in you notice, to your horror and frustration, that you can’t hear properly. You’re wearing your hearing aids but you still can’t hear anything.

You’re incredibly disappointed.

Modern marvels muffled

It’s well known that you can achieve crystal clear sound with modern hearing aids. So when that doesn’t occur, that can be very depressing. 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 certainly not an improvement over your regular hearing). The issue may 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 working correctly? Well, there are a couple of things you can do to try to fix the issue.

Earwax

You’d be rich if you had a dime for every time earwax caused trouble. The problem with your hearing aid may be an accumulation of earwax against the microphone. The earwax inhibits your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound and, thus, the amplification is muffled.

Here are some signs that earwax could be the issue.:

  • Turning the hearing aid on. The problem is likely to be the microphone (probably wax buildup) and not the speaker if all of the start-up sounds are normal when you turn on the hearing aid.
  • Visually inspect your hearing aids. Don’t simply put your hearing aid in without getting a good look at it. Clean it completely if you notice any earwax.

It’s also possible that earwax has built up not on your hearing aid but in your ear. In those cases, make sure 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.

Infection

Infection will be the next thing to consider if earwax isn’t responsible. This could be a common ear infection. Sometimes, it may 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. This swelling blocks the transmission of sound and, therefore, your hearing is muffled. Management may include some antibiotics. As soon as the infection has cleared, your hearing will usually return 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 are drained so make sure you watch for that. 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.

Hearing loss

It may also be feasible that your hearing loss has changed and your hearing aids need to be reprogrammed to make up for that. If you haven’t had your hearing tested in the last year or so, consider making an appointment. Not only will you be able to make sure your hearing aids are properly 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 for a consultation. If your muffled hearing lingers, you could find yourself wearing your hearing aids less (or cranking up the volume on your TV again). Your hearing could then start to sustain further damage.

Letting it linger is not a wise idea. If you are unable to 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 event. You’ll have more fun if you can actually hear what they’re saying!

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.