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 sounds dull, distant, and not right. It’s like you aren’t hearing the full sound you’re supposed to be receiving. When you troubleshoot the problem with a simple Google search, the most probable answer seems like a low battery. Which frustrates you because you keep the batteries charged each night.

Even so, here you are, struggling to hear your bunch of friends carry on a discussion near you. You bought hearing aids to avoid this exact circumstance. You may want to check one more possibility before you get too annoyed about your hearing aids: earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Live in Your Ears

Your ears are the place where your hearing aids reside under normal circumstances. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear design. Other versions are designed to be positioned inside the ear canal for best performance. Regardless of where your hearing aid is positioned, it will be close to an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

A Shield Against Earwax

Now, earwax does a lot of great things for the health of your ears ((numerous infection can actually be prevented because of the antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities of earwax, according to numerous studies). So earwax can actually be a positive thing.

But hearing aids and earwax don’t always work together quite as well–earwax moisture, especially, can impact the standard function of hearing aids. Fortunately, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well mindful of it.

So a safety component, known as wax guards, have been integrated so that the effective function of your device isn’t hampered by earwax. And those wax guards might be what’s causing the “weak” sound.

Wax Guard Etiquette

A wax guard is a tiny piece of technology that is bundled into your hearing aid. The idea is that the wax guard lets sound to go through, but not wax. Wax guards are indispensable for your hearing aid to continue working properly. But problems can be caused by the wax guard itself in some circumstances:

  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been replaced: Wax guards need replacing like any other filter. A wax guard can only be cleaned so many times. You might have to get a new wax guard when cleaning no longer works (you can buy a special toolkit to make this process easier).
  • You have 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.
  • You have a dirty hearing aid shell: When you’re changing your earwax guard, it’s important that your hearing aid shell be properly cleaned as well. If earwax is covering your hearing aid, it’s feasible some of that wax may make its way into the inside of the device while you’re changing the guard (and this would clearly hamper the function of your hearing aids).
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard should be a monthly (or so) maintenance task. A wax guard filters out the wax but sometimes it gets clogged and as with any type of filter, it has to be cleaned. Every every so often, you’ll need to clean the guard or the wax caught up in it will begin to block sound waves and mess up your hearing.
  • You need a professional check and clean: At least once per year you should have your hearing aid professionally checked and cleaned to make certain it’s functioning correctly. And in order to be certain that your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you should also have your hearing tested routinely.

If you buy a new hearing aid guard, it will likely come with instructions, so it’s a good plan to follow those instructions to the best of your ability.

I Replaced my Wax Guard, What’s Next?

Once you’ve changed your earwax guard, your hearing aids should start producing clearer sounds. You’ll be able to hear (and follow) conversations again. And if you’ve been coping with weak sound from your hearing aids, this can be quite a relief.

There’s definitely a learning curve in regards to maintaining any specialized device such as hearing aids. So just remember: if your hearing aid sounds weak and your batteries are fully charged, it may be time to replace 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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