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 looking forward to this all week: a Zoom call with your grandchildren. You’ll be able to catch up, check-in, and, have a laugh.

But when the call starts, you are mortified to find out, you can’t hear what your loved ones are saying. You’re wearing your hearing aids but things still sound muffled.

You can’t believe how frustrated you are.

Modern marvels muffled

It’s well known that you can achieve crystal clear sound with modern hearing aids. That’s why it can be really, really aggravating when that doesn’t occur. You should have clearer hearing with hearing aids, right? But your hearing aids aren’t improving your hearing. Actually, they’re making everything sound muffled. The hearing aid itself may not even be the problem.

What’s the cause of that muffling?

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


You’d be rich if you had a nickel for every time earwax caused trouble. Earwax may have built up against the microphone and that could be the source of your problem. The earwax impedes your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound and, thus, the amplification is muffled.

Here are some indications that earwax could be the issue.:

  • Doing a visual assessment. In other words, take a good look at the device before you put it in your ear. Clean it thoroughly if you notice any earwax.
  • Power-up the hearing aid. 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 likely reason).

It’s also possible that earwax has built up 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). If the muffled issue persists once you’ve cleaned up your hearing aid and your ears, you’ll have to continue troubleshooting.


Infection will be the next thing to think about if earwax isn’t responsible. Sometimes, this could be a common ear infection. Or it might be an inner ear infection. In both instances, a hearing evaluation is recommended.

Ear infections of various kinds and causes can generate inflammation in your ear canal or middle ear. This inflammation blocks the transmission of sound and, therefore, the sound you’re hearing is muffled. Normally, antibiotics will clear this kind of infection up. Once the infection clears, your hearing will usually go back to normal.


It’s also altogether possible that your hearing aid batteries need to be changed. Hearing aids can sound muffled when the batteries get low so be sure to watch for that. This is true even if your batteries are rechargeable. It’s possible, in many cases, that your hearing aids will be crystal clear again after you switch out the batteries with fresh ones.

Hearing loss

If you’re still having trouble hearing, don’t discount the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. 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 correctly 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 good plan to come in for a consultation if you’ve tried all this and your hearing aid still sounds muffled. If the muffled sounds linger, you could find yourself using your hearing aids less (or cranking up the volume on your TV again). Your hearing may then begin to sustain further damage.

Letting it linger is not a smart plan. 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 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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