You’re having a Zoom call with your grandchild and you’ve been waiting for it all week! You’ll be able to catch up, check-in, and, laugh.
But when you log in you realize, 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 can’t believe how discouraged you are.
Modern marvels muffled
Modern hearing aids are celebrated for their ability to produce very clear sounds. So it can be really, really aggravating when that doesn’t occur. You’re supposed to have clearer hearing when you’re using hearing aids, right? But, recently, every time you’ve used your hearing aids, everything has sounded muffled and distorted (and that’s certainly not an improvement over your normal hearing). The issue may not be the hearing aid at all.
What’s the cause of that muffling?
All right, so, if the hearing aid is working correctly, why does everyone sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher? Well, there are a couple of things you can do to try to right the ship, as it were.
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. The issue with your hearing aid may be an accumulation of earwax against the microphone. The earwax interferes with your hearing aid’s ability to pick up sound and, hence, the amplification is muffled.
Here are some indications that earwax may be the problem.:
- Doing a visual inspection. In other words, have a good look at the device before you put it in your ear. Clean it thoroughly if you notice any earwax.
- Turning the hearing aid on. 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.
It’s also possible that earwax has accumulated not on your hearing aid but in your ear. In those instances, make sure to clean out your ears in a safe way (a cotton swab, by the way, is not a safe way). If the muffled problem remains after you’ve cleaned up your hearing aid and your ears, you’ll have to keep troubleshooting.
Infection will be the next thing to think about if earwax isn’t accountable. In many cases, this could be a standard ear infection. Sometimes, it could be an inner ear infection. In both instances, a hearing evaluation is suggested.
Swelling of the ear canal and middle ear can be the outcome of both kinds of infection. Your hearing will then sound muffled as this inflammation blocks the transmission of sound. Normally, antibiotics will clear this kind of infection up. As soon as the infection has cleared, your hearing should go back to normal.
It’s also very possible that your hearing aid batteries need to be changed. As hearing aids drain, they sometimes begin to sound, well, muffled (you can see why this should be something to check). This is still true even if you have rechargeable batteries. It’s possible, in many cases, that your hearing aids will become crystal clear again after you replace the batteries with fresh ones.
It may also be possible that your hearing loss has changed and your hearing aids need to be adjusted to compensate for that. Think about scheduling an appointment for a hearing test if you haven’t had one in the last year. 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
It’s certainly a smart plan to come in for a consultation if you’ve tried all this and your hearing aid is still muffled. If your muffled hearing lingers, you may find yourself wearing your hearing aids less (or cranking up the volume on your TV again). And all of that could begin renewed hearing damage.
Letting it linger is not a wise plan. If you are unable to clean out some earwax and get hearing again, schedule a hearing assessment with us right away and get everything taken care of before your next family get-together. You’ll have more fun if you can actually hear what they’re saying!