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’ve been waiting for this all week: a Zoom call with your son and daughter-in-law. You’ll have a blast and catch-up with your beloved family members.

But when you get online you notice, to your horror and frustration, that you can’t hear properly. Your hearing aids are in, but everything seems muffled.

You can’t believe how discouraged you are.

Modern marvels muffled

Modern hearing aids are celebrated for their ability to deliver very clear sounds. So when that doesn’t happen, that can be really depressing. Hearing aids are designed to help you hear better, right? But, lately, 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 problem might not be the hearing aid at all.

What’s the cause of that muffling?

So why do voices sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher if your hearing aids are working properly? Well, there are a few things you can do to correct the problem.


You’d be rich if you had a nickel for every time earwax caused trouble. The issue with your hearing aid may be a build-up of earwax against the microphone. The earwax inhibits your hearing aid’s ability to pick up sound and, thus, the amplification is muffled.

Here are some indications that earwax may 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 power-up the hearing aid.
  • 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.

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 have to continue if the muffled sound remains even after you’ve cleaned your ears and your hearing aid.


So, if earwax isn’t the issue, the next likely culprit will be an infection. In many cases, this could be a common ear infection. Sometimes, it may be an inner ear infection. Both are worth making an appointment for an assessment.

Swelling of the ear canal and middle ear can be the result of both kinds of infection. Your hearing will then sound muffled as this inflammation blocks the transmission of sound. Usually, antibiotics will clear this type of infection up. Once the infection clears, your hearing will usually go back to normal.


It’s also entirely possible that your hearing aid batteries need to be changed. 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 still true even if your batteries are rechargeable. Sometimes, replacing the batteries with new ones can make your hearing aids sound crystal clear again.

Hearing loss

It may also be possible that your hearing loss has changed and your hearing aids need to be adjusted to make up for that. Think about making an appointment for a hearing exam if you haven’t had one in the past year. Not only will you be able to be certain 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

It’s certainly a smart plan 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 could find yourself wearing your hearing aids less (or cranking up the volume on your TV again). Your hearing may then start to sustain additional damage.

So, don’t let it linger. If you are unable to clean out some earwax and get hearing again, schedule a hearing assessment with us today and get everything cleared up before your next family event. If you can actually hear what they’re saying you’ll you’ll have a lot more fun.

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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.

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