You’ve been waiting for this all week: a Zoom call with your son and daughter-in-law. You’ll be able to get caught up, check-in, and, have a laugh.
But when you get online you realize, to your horror and disappointment, that you can’t hear very well. You’re wearing your hearing aids but you still can’t hear anything.
You can’t believe how disappointed you are.
Modern marvels muffled
Modern hearing aids are known for their ability to produce very clear sounds. That’s why it can be really, really discouraging when that doesn’t occur. You’re supposed to have clearer hearing with hearing aids, right? But, lately, 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 causing that muffling?
So why do voices sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher if your hearing aids are working properly? Well, there are a couple of things you can do to try to right the ship, as it were.
You’d be rich if you had a dime for every time earwax caused trouble. Earwax might have accumulated against the microphone and that could be the source of your trouble. Amplification is muffled when earwax blocks your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound.
You might be able to determine if earwax is the problem by:
- Turning the hearing aid on. If the start-up music and dings all sound normal, but speech is later muffled, the problem is probably with the microphone and not the speaker (and wax is the most likely reason).
- Doing a visual check. Don’t just put your hearing aid in without taking a good look at it. Clean it thoroughly if you see any earwax.
Alternatively, it’s possible that earwax in your ear rather than on the hearing aid is the issue here. Be sure, in those situations, you safely clean out your ears (cotton swabs are not recommended). 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 issue, the next likely culprit is going to be an infection. In many cases, this could be a common ear infection. Sometimes, it could be an inner ear infection. In both situations, a hearing assessment is suggested.
Ear infections of several kinds and causes can create swelling in your ear canal or middle ear. This swelling blocks the transmission of sound and, therefore, the sound you’re hearing is muffled. Management might include some antibiotics. Once the infection goes away, your hearing will usually go back to normal.
It’s also very possible that your hearing aid batteries are in need to be charged. As hearing aids lose power, they sometimes begin to sound, well, muffled (you can see why this would be something to keep an eye on). Even if you have rechargeable batteries this can still be true. It’s possible, in many cases, that your hearing aids will become crystal clear again after you change the batteries with new ones.
If you’re still having problems hearing, don’t discount the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. Consider making an appointment for a hearing test if you haven’t had one in the past year. Not only will you be able to make sure your hearing aids are properly tuned, 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 nothing really helps, it’s certainly worth taking some time to come in and see us. If the muffled sounds linger, you might 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 plan. Schedule an appointment with us so you can get back to hearing before that big family event. If you can actually hear what they’re saying you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more.