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

You just swapped out the batteries, but your hearing aids just don’t sound the way they should. Things just sound off, like they’re a little muffled and far away. It seems like some of the sound is missing. When you do some basic research, a low battery seems to be the probable cause. And that’s irritating because you’re really diligent about putting your hearing aid on the charging platform before you go to bed every night.

But here you are with some friends and you can’t quite hear their discussion. This is exactly the scenario you bought hearing aids to prevent. You may want to check out one more possibility before you get too annoyed about your hearing aids: earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Live in Your Ears

Your ears are where your hearing aids reside under typical circumstances. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear design. And for optimal efficiency, other models have been designed to be placed directly in the ear canal. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor regardless of where your hearing aid is situated.

A Shield Against Earwax

Now, earwax does lots of important things for the health of your ears (many studies have demonstrated that earwax actually has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that can help ward off many infections). So earwax isn’t a negative thing.

But the relationship between earwax and hearing aids is not always helpful–earwax moisture, especially, can interfere with the normal operation of hearing aids. Luckily, this isn’t exactly a surprise to hearing aid makers and earwax doesn’t usually move in unpredictable ways.

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

Things to Know About Wax Guards

A wax guard is a small piece of technology that is bundled into your hearing aid. Wax can’t pass through but sound can. So that your hearing aid can continue to work efficiently, a wax guard is essential. But issues can be created by the wax guard itself in some circumstances:

  • You haven’t changed your wax guard for a while: Wax guards need replacing like any other filter. A wax guard can only be cleaned so many times. You may have to get a new wax guard if cleaning doesn’t (so that you can make this smoother, you can buy a toolkit made specially for this).
  • A professional clean and check is required: In order to be sure that your hearing aid is functioning correctly, it needs to be cleaned once per year. You should also consider getting your hearing examined regularly to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
  • Your hearing aid shell needs to be cleaned: And let’s not forget your hearing aid shell, which also needs to be cleaned when you change your wax guard. If your hearing aid shell is plugged with earwax, it’s possible some of that wax may make its way into the interior of the device while you’re swapping the guard (and this would obviously hinder the function of your hearing aids).
  • Cleaning your earwax guard should be done once a month: it’s been too long since you’ve cleaned them. As with any filter, a wax guard can ultimately become clogged with the very thing it’s been tasked with filtering out. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is clogging up the wax guard and on occasion, you will have to clean it.
  • When you bought your new wax guards, you got the wrong one: Most hearing aid providers have their own unique wax guard design. If you buy the wrong model for your specific hearing aid, your device’s functions might be diminished, and that may result in the hearing aid sounding “weak.”

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

After I Switch Out my Earwax Guard

You should observe substantially improved sound quality after you switch your wax guard. Hearing and following discussions should be much better. And if you’ve been coping with inferior sound quality from your hearing aids, this can be quite a relief.

As with any complex device, hearing aids do call for some regular maintenance, and there’s definitely a learning curve involved. So just remember: if your hearing aid is sounding weak and your batteries are fully charged, it could 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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