Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

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 get caught up, check-in, and, laugh.

But when you get online you realize, to your sadness and disappointment, that you can’t hear very well. You’re wearing your hearing aids but things still sound muffled.

You can’t believe how disappointed you are.

Modern marvels muffled

It’s well recognized that you can attain crystal clear sound with modern hearing aids. So when that doesn’t happen, that can be very frustrating. Hearing aids are supposed 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 definitely not an improvement over your normal hearing). The hearing aid itself might not even be the problem.

Why do my hearing aids sound muffled?

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


You’d be rich if you had a nickel for every time earwax caused trouble. The problem with your hearing aid might be an accumulation of earwax against the microphone. Amplification is muffled when earwax obstructs your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound.

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

  • Doing a visual check. 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.
  • Power-up the hearing aid. The problem is likely to be the microphone (probably wax accumulation) and not the speaker if all of the start-up sounds are normal when you turn on the hearing aid.

Alternatively, it’s possible that earwax in your ear and not on the hearing aid is the issue here. In those instances, make sure 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 after you’ve cleaned up your hearing aid and your ears, you’ll have to keep troubleshooting.


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

Swelling of the ear canal and middle ear can be the outcome of both kinds of infection. This swelling blocks the transmission of sound and, consequently, the sound you’re hearing is muffled. Management may include some antibiotics. Once the infection has cleared, your hearing will usually go back to normal.


You just need to change your battery. Hearing aids can sound muffled when the batteries are drained so be sure to check for that. This is true even if your batteries are rechargeable. Sometimes, switching out the batteries with fresh ones can make your hearing aids sound crystal clear again.

Hearing loss

If you’re still having trouble hearing, don’t discount the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. If you haven’t had your hearing tested in the last year or so, think about scheduling an appointment. While you’re here having your hearing aid reprogrammed we can also do an inspection and cleaning.

Don’t let it linger

It’s definitely a smart plan to come in for a consultation if you’ve tried all this and your hearing aid still sounds muffled. If your muffled hearing lingers, you could find yourself using your hearing aids less (or turning up the volume on your TV again). And all of that could start causing hearing damage again.

Letting it linger is not a wise plan. Make an appointment with us so you can get back to hearing before that big family get-together. You’ll have more fun 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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