Why Does my Hearing Aid Sound 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’ve been looking forward to this all week: a Zoom call with your son and daughter-in-law. You’ll have a great time and catch-up with your cherished family members.

But when you get online you notice, 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 discouraged you are.

Modern marvels muffled

It’s well recognized that you can achieve crystal clear sound with modern hearing aids. So when that doesn’t occur, that can be very discouraging. Hearing aids are supposed to help you hear better, right? But, lately, every time you’ve turned your hearing aids on, everything has sounded muffled and distorted (and that’s certainly not an improvement over your normal hearing). The problem may not be the hearing aid at all.

What’s the cause of that muffling?

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


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

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

  • Doing a visual inspection. In other words, have a good look at the device before you put it in your ear. If you notice any earwax, try to remove it.
  • Turning the hearing aid on. The issue is likely to be the microphone (probably wax buildup) and not the speaker if all of the start-up sounds are normal when you power-up the hearing aid.

Alternatively, it’s possible that earwax in your ear and not on the hearing aid is the problem here. In those cases, 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 problem remains after 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. This could be a common ear infection. Or it might be an inner ear infection. Both are worth making an appointment for an assessment.

Swelling of the ear canal and middle ear can be the outcome of both kinds of infection. This inflammation blocks the transmission of sound and, therefore, your hearing is muffled. Management may include some antibiotics. Once the infection goes away, your hearing will usually return to normal.


It’s also entirely possible that your hearing aid batteries are in need to be charged. As hearing aids drain, they sometimes start to sound, well, muffled (you can see why this would be something to keep an eye on). Even if your hearing aids are rechargeable this can still be true. It’s possible, in many instances, that your hearing aids will be crystal clear again after you switch out the batteries with new ones.

Hearing loss

If you’re still having problems hearing, don’t discount the possibility that your hearing loss has changed. Think about scheduling an appointment for a hearing exam if you haven’t had one in the last 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 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 turning your TV up again if you don’t eliminate this muffling issue. Your hearing could then begin to sustain additional damage.

Letting it linger is not a smart idea. If you can’t clean out some earwax and get hearing again, schedule a hearing test with us right away and get everything cleared up before your next family get-together. If you can actually hear what they’re saying you’ll you’ll have a lot more fun.

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.