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 waiting for this all week: a Zoom call with your grandchildren. You’ll have a blast and catch-up with your beloved family members.

But when you log in you notice, to your sadness and frustration, that you can’t hear properly. You’re wearing your hearing aids but you still can’t hear anything.

You can’t believe how frustrated you are.

Modern marvels muffled

Modern hearing aids are known for their ability to produce very clear sounds. That’s why it can be really, really discouraging when that doesn’t occur. Hearing aids are supposed to help you hear better, right? But your hearing aids are not improving your hearing. In fact, they’re making everything sound muffled. The hearing aid itself might not even be the problem.

Why do my hearing aids sound muffled?

Ok, so, if the hearing aid is functioning correctly, why does everybody sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher? Well, there are a couple of 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 built up against the microphone and that may be the source of your trouble. The earwax impedes your hearing aid’s ability to detect sound and, thus, the amplification is muffled.

Here are some signs that earwax could 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 probably with the microphone and not the speaker (and wax is the likely culprit).
  • Visually look over your hearing aids. Don’t just put your hearing aid in without taking a good look at it. If you see earwax, try to clean it off.

Alternatively, it’s possible that earwax in your ear rather than on the hearing aid is the problem 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.


So, if earwax isn’t the problem, the next likely culprit is going to be an infection. In many cases, this could be a standard ear infection. Or it might be an inner ear infection. In both cases, a hearing assessment is suggested.

Ear infections of various kinds and causes can generate inflammation in your ear canal or middle ear. Your hearing will then sound muffled as this swelling blocks the transmission of sound. Treatments may include some antibiotics. As soon as the infection has cleared, your hearing will usually return to normal.


It’s also altogether 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 should be something to check). Even if you have rechargeable batteries this can be true. It’s possible, in many cases, that your hearing aids will become crystal clear again after you replace the batteries with new ones.

Hearing loss

It might also be feasible that your hearing loss has changed and your hearing aids need to be reprogrammed to make up for that. If you haven’t had a hearing exam in the last year or so, think about making 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 certainly a smart idea to come in for a consultation if you’ve tried all this and your hearing aid still sounds muffled. You might find yourself putting your hearing aids in a drawer and cranking your TV up again if you don’t solve this muffling issue. Your hearing could then start to sustain additional damage.

Letting it linger is not a smart idea. If you are unable to clear out some earwax and get hearing again, schedule a hearing exam with us right away and get everything taken care of before your next family event. You’ll enjoy yourself more if you can actually hear what everyone is 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.