Woman holding ear because her hearing aid isn't working.

Your hearing aids don’t sound the way they should even though you recently changed the batteries. Everything seems dull, distant, and just a little off. It seems like some of the sound isn’t there. When you do some basic research, a battery issue appears to be the probable reason. Which frustrates you because you charge the batteries every night.

Nevertheless, here you are, struggling to hear your bunch of friends have a conversation around you. This is exactly the situation you bought hearing aids to prevent. You might want to check one more possibility before you become too angry about your hearing aids: earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Live in Your Ears

Your hearing aids live in your ear, in most cases. Even when you wear an over-the-ear model, there’s at least contact with your ear canal. And for optimal performance, other versions have been designed to be positioned directly in the ear canal. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor no matter where your hearing aid is positioned.

Earwax Guards

Now, earwax does some important things for the health of your ears (numerous studies have demonstrated that earwax actually has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that can help stave off various infections). So earwax can actually be a positive thing.

But earwax and hearing aids don’t always work together quite as well–earwax moisture, particularly, can impact the normal operation of hearing aids. Fortunately, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well aware of it.

So modern hearing aids have shields, known as wax guards, designed to stop earwax from impacting the general function of your device. And the “weak” sound might be caused by these wax guards.

Wax Guard Etiquette

There is a small piece of technology inside your hearing aid called a wax guard. The concept is that the wax guard lets sound to go through, but not wax. In order for your hearing aid to continue to work properly, a wax guard is crucial. But problems can be caused by the wax guard itself in certain situations:

  • Cleaning your earwax guard needs to be done once every month: it’s been too long since you last cleaned them. A wax guard filters out the wax but it can become clogged and as with any kind of filter, it needs to get cleaned. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is clogging up the wax guard and every now and then, you will need to clean it.
  • You’ve replaced your wax guard with the incorrect model: Every model and maker has a different wax guard. Sound that is “weak” can be the outcome if you buy the wrong wax guard for your model.
  • Your hearing aid shell needs to be cleaned: And let’s remember your hearing aid shell, which also has to be cleaned when you change your wax guard. If your device shell is plugged with earwax, it’s possible, while you’re swapping out the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the inside of the hearing aid (and this would obviously hamper the function of your hearing aids).
  • You haven’t replaced your wax guard for a while: Just like any other filter, eventually, the wax guard will no longer be able to properly perform its task. There’s only so much cleaning you can do to a wax guard! When cleaning no longer does the trick, you might have to replace your wax guard (so that you can make this smoother, you can purchase a toolkit made specially for this).
  • You need a professional clean and check: In order to be certain that your hearing aid is working properly, it needs to be cleaned once per year. And in order to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you also need to get your hearing tested regularly.

Be certain you use the included instruction for best results with your wax guard.

I Replaced my Wax Guard, What’s Next?

Once you’ve changed your earwax guard, your hearing aids should begin providing clearer sounds. Hearing and following discussions should become much better. And if you’ve been coping with poor sound quality from your hearing aids, this can be a real relief.

There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to maintaining any specialized device such as hearing aids. So don’t forget: if your hearing aid sounds weak and your batteries are fully charged, it might be time to change your earwax guard.

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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