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 grandchild and you’ve been waiting for it all week! You’ll be able to get caught up, check-in, and, have a laugh.

But when you get online you realize, to your sadness and disappointment, that you can’t hear very well. Your hearing aids are in, but everything sounds muffled.

You’re incredibly discouraged.

Modern marvels muffled

Modern hearing aids are known for their ability to produce crystal clear sounds. So when that doesn’t happen, that can be really frustrating. Hearing aids are meant to help you hear better, right? But your hearing aids aren’t improving your hearing. In fact, they’re making everything sound muffled. The hearing aid itself might not even be the issue.

Why do my hearing aids sound muffled?

Ok, so, if the hearing aid is working properly, why does everyone sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher? Well, there are several things you can do to fix the problem.

Earwax

If I had a nickel for every problem that earwax has caused (in general, not me personally), I’d be a rich (but still cranky) man. Earwax might have accumulated against the microphone and that may be the source of your problem. The earwax inhibits your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound and, as a result, the amplification is muffled.

You may be able to determine if earwax is the problem by:

  • Power-up the hearing aid. If the start-up music 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 reason).
  • Doing a visual inspection. Don’t simply put your hearing aid in without getting a good look at it. Clean it thoroughly if you notice any earwax.

Conversely, it’s possible that earwax in your ear rather than on the hearing aid is the problem here. In those cases, 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 need to continue if the muffled sound remains even after you’ve cleaned your ears and your hearing aid.

Infection

Infection will be the next thing to think about if earwax isn’t accountable. This could be a normal ear infection. Sometimes, it might be an inner ear infection. In both cases, a hearing assessment is recommended.

Ear infections of several kinds and causes can generate swelling in your ear canal or middle ear. This inflammation blocks the transmission of sound and, therefore, your hearing is muffled. Treatments might include some antibiotics. When the infection has cleared, your hearing will usually return to normal.

Batteries

You just need to replace your battery. Hearing aids can sound muffled when the batteries get low so make sure you watch for that. This is still true even if your batteries are rechargeable. It’s possible, in many cases, that your hearing aids will become crystal clear again after you switch out the batteries with new ones.

Hearing loss

If you’re still having difficulty hearing, don’t ignore the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. If you haven’t had your hearing tested in the last year or so, think about making an appointment. While you’re here getting your hearing aid reprogrammed we can also do an inspection and cleaning.

Don’t let it linger

It’s definitely a good idea to come see us for a consultation if you’ve tried all this and your hearing aid is still muffled. If your muffled hearing lingers, 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.

So, don’t let it linger. Make an appointment with us so you can get back to hearing before that big family event. You’ll enjoy yourself more if you can actually hear what everyone is 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.