My Hearing Sounds 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 granddaughter and you’ve been looking forward to it all week! You’ll have a blast and catch-up with your beloved family members.

But when the call starts, you are mortified to realize, you can’t hear what your loved ones are saying. You’re wearing your hearing aids but you still can’t hear anything.

You can’t believe how discouraged you are.

Modern marvels muffled

It’s well known that you can experience crystal clear sound with modern hearing aids. So when that doesn’t happen, that can be very discouraging. Hearing aids are supposed to help you hear better, right? But your hearing aids aren’t helping your hearing. Actually, they’re making everything sound muffled. The issue 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 correctly? Well, there are a few 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. Earwax might have accumulated against the microphone and that may be the source of your problem. Amplification is muffled when earwax obstructs your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound.

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

  • Doing a visual inspection. Don’t simply put your hearing aid in without taking a good look at it. If you see earwax, try to clean it off.
  • 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 most likely culprit).

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). The troubleshooting will have to continue if the muffled sound lingers even after you’ve cleaned your ears and your hearing aid.


So, if earwax isn’t the issue, the next likely reason will be an infection. In many cases, this could be a common ear infection. Or it may be an inner ear infection. In both instances, a hearing evaluation is recommended.

Inflammation of the ear canal and middle ear can be the result of both kinds of infection. This swelling blocks the transmission of sound and, consequently, the sound you’re hearing is muffled. Treatments might include some antibiotics. Once the infection has cleared, your hearing should return to normal.


It’s also entirely possible that your hearing aid batteries need to be changed. As hearing aids drain, they sometimes start to sound, well, muffled (you can see why this would be something to check). This is true even if your batteries are rechargeable. It’s possible, in many instances, that your hearing aids will become crystal clear again after you change the batteries with fresh ones.

Hearing loss

It might also be feasible that your hearing loss has changed and your hearing aids need to be reprogrammed to compensate for that. Consider making an appointment for a hearing test if you haven’t had one in the last year. While you’re here having your hearing aid reprogrammed we can also do an inspection and cleaning.

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 for a consultation. You might find yourself putting your hearing aids in a drawer and turning your TV up again if you don’t resolve this muffling issue. And all of that could start renewed hearing damage.

Letting it linger is not a wise idea. Schedule an appointment with us so you can get back to hearing before that big family get-together. You’ll enjoy yourself more if you can actually hear what they’re 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.

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