You’ve been anticipating 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 notice, to your sadness and frustration, that you can’t hear properly. You’re wearing your hearing aids but things still sound muffled.
You’re incredibly disappointed.
Modern marvels muffled
Modern hearing aids are celebrated for their ability to deliver very clear sounds. So it can be really, really frustrating when that doesn’t occur. You should have better hearing when you’re using hearing aids, right? But, lately, every time you’ve used your hearing aids, everything has sounded muffled and distorted (and that’s definitely not an improvement over your normal hearing). The issue might not be the hearing aid at all.
What’s the cause of that muffling?
All right, so, if the hearing aid is functioning correctly, why does everyone sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher? Well, there are several things you can do to correct the issue.
You’d be rich if you had a nickel 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 pick up sound and, hence, the amplification is muffled.
You might be able to tell if earwax is the issue by:
- Visually look over your hearing aids. In other words, have a good look at the device before you put it in your ear. If you notice any earwax, try to remove it.
- Turning the hearing aid on. If the start-up songs 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 likely culprit).
It’s also possible that earwax has accumulated not on your hearing aid but in your ear. Be sure, in those instances, you safely clean out your ears (cotton swabs are not recommended). The troubleshooting will need to continue if the muffled sound persists even after you’ve cleaned your ears and your hearing aid.
So, if earwax isn’t the issue, the next likely reason is going to be an infection. Sometimes, this could be a common ear infection. Or it may be an inner ear infection. In both situations, a hearing assessment is suggested.
Inflammation of the ear canal and middle ear can be the outcome of both kinds of infection. This inflammation blocks the transmission of sound and, therefore, the sound you’re hearing is muffled. Management may include some antibiotics. Once the infection goes away, your hearing will usually return to normal.
You just have to change your battery. As hearing aids lose power, they sometimes start to sound, well, muffled (you can see why this should be something to keep an eye on). This is true even if your batteries are rechargeable. Sometimes, switching out the batteries with fresh ones can make your hearing aids sound crystal clear again.
If you’re still having trouble hearing, don’t ignore the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. Think about scheduling an appointment for a hearing test if you haven’t had one in the past year. Not only will you be able to be certain 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 nothing really helps, it’s definitely worth taking some time to come in and see us. You may find yourself putting your hearing aids in a drawer and turning your TV up again if you don’t eliminate this muffling issue. Your hearing could then begin 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 get-together. If you can actually hear what they’re saying you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more.