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 son and daughter-in-law. You’ll have a blast and get caught up with your beloved family members.

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

You can’t believe how disappointed you are.

Modern marvels muffled

It’s well recognized that you can experience crystal clear sound with modern hearing aids. That’s why it can be really, really frustrating when that doesn’t occur. You should have better hearing with hearing aids, right? But, recently, every time you’ve turned your hearing aids on, everything has sounded muffled and distorted (and that’s definitely not an improvement over your normal hearing). The issue may not be the hearing aid at all.

What’s causing that muffling?

All right, so, if the hearing aid is working properly, why does everyone sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher? Well, there are a few things you can do to try to fix the issue.


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 pick up sound and, thus, the amplification is muffled.

You might be able to determine if earwax is the issue by:

  • Power-up the hearing aid. If the start-up music and dings all sound fine, but speech is later muffled, the problem is likely with the microphone and not the speaker (and wax is the likely culprit).
  • Doing a visual inspection. Don’t just put your hearing aid in without getting a good look at it. If you notice any earwax, try to remove it.

Alternatively, it’s possible that earwax in your ear and not on the hearing aid is the issue here. In those situations, be certain to clean out your ears in a safe way (a cotton swab, by the way, is not a safe way). If the muffled issue continues once you’ve cleaned up your hearing aid and your ears, you’ll need to keep troubleshooting.


Infection will be the next thing to consider if earwax isn’t responsible. Sometimes, this could be a standard ear infection. Or it might be an inner ear infection. Both are worth setting up an appointment for an assessment.

Inflammation of the ear canal and middle ear can be the result of both kinds of infection. Your hearing will then sound muffled as this swelling blocks the transmission of sound. Normally, antibiotics will clear this type of infection up. Once the infection goes away, your hearing will usually return to normal.


It’s also very possible that your hearing aid batteries need to be changed. 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. Sometimes, switching out the batteries with new ones can make your hearing aids sound crystal clear again.

Hearing loss

If you’re still having difficulty hearing, don’t ignore the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. Consider making an appointment for a hearing test if you haven’t had one in the past year. Not only will you be able to make sure 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 see us for a consultation if you’ve tried all this and your hearing aid still sounds muffled. You may find yourself putting your hearing aids in a drawer and cranking your TV up again if you don’t solve this muffling problem. And all of that could start causing hearing damage again.

So, don’t let it linger. Schedule 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 they’re saying!

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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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