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 be able to get caught up, check-in, and, have a laugh.

But when the call starts, you are horrified to realize, you can’t hear what your loved ones are saying. Your hearing aids are in, but everything seems muffled.

You’re incredibly discouraged.

Modern marvels muffled

Modern hearing aids are known for their ability to produce crystal clear sounds. That’s why it can be really, really aggravating when that doesn’t happen. You’re supposed to have clearer hearing with hearing aids, right? But your hearing aids aren’t improving your hearing. In fact, they’re making everything sound muffled. The hearing aid itself may not even be the problem.

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 couple things you can do to fix the issue.


If I had a dime for every issue that earwax has caused (in general, not me personally), I’d be a rich (but still cranky) man. The issue with your hearing aid might be a build-up of earwax against the microphone. The earwax impedes your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound and, hence, the amplification is muffled.

Here are some signs that earwax may be the problem.:

  • Turning the hearing aid on. If the start-up songs and dings all sound normal, but speech is later muffled, the problem is likely with the microphone and not the speaker (and wax is the likely reason).
  • Visually inspect your hearing aids. In other words, take a good look at the hearing aid before you put it in your ear. 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 cases, make sure to clean out your ears in a safe way (a cotton swab, by the way, is not a safe way). The troubleshooting will need to continue if the muffled sound persists even after you’ve cleaned your ears and your hearing aid.


Infection will be the next thing to consider if earwax isn’t responsible. This could be a normal ear infection. Sometimes, it may be an inner ear infection. In both cases, a hearing assessment is suggested.

Ear infections of several kinds and causes can generate inflammation in your ear canal or middle ear. This swelling blocks the transmission of sound and, consequently, your hearing is muffled. Management might include some antibiotics. When the infection has cleared, your hearing will usually return to normal.


You just need to replace your battery. Hearing aids can sound muffled when the batteries get low so make sure you check for that. 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 change the batteries with new ones.

Hearing loss

It might also be possible that your hearing loss has changed and your hearing aids need to be reprogrammed to compensate for that. Think about scheduling an appointment for a hearing examination if you haven’t had one in the last year. Not only will you be able to make sure your hearing aids are correctly 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 good idea to come in for a consultation if you’ve tried all this and your hearing aid is still muffled. You might find yourself putting your hearing aids in a drawer and cranking your TV up again if you don’t resolve this muffling problem. Your hearing could then begin to sustain additional damage.

Letting it linger is not a good idea. 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 enjoy yourself a lot more.

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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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