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

You just swapped out the batteries, but your hearing aids just don’t sound right. Things just sound off, like they’re a little dull and far away. It’s like some of the sound is missing. When you try to diagnose the issue with a simple Google search, the most likely answer seems to be a low battery. Which annoys you because you keep the batteries charged every night.

But here you are with some friends and you can’t quite hear their discussion. You got hearing aids to avoid this exact situation. You might want to check one more possibility before you become too aggravated about your hearing aids: earwax.

A Residence in Your Ears

Your hearing aids live in your ear, normally. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear model. Other models are manufactured to be positioned in the ear canal for best efficiency. Wherever your hearing aid is positioned, it will be close to an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

Earwax Guards

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

But hearing aids and earwax don’t always get along quite as well–the moisture in earwax, especially, can hinder the normal operation of hearing aids. The good news is, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well aware of it.

So a protective feature, known as wax guards, have been integrated so that the effective function of your device isn’t impeded by earwax. And the “weak” sound might be brought about by these wax guards.

Things to Know About Wax Guards

There is a small piece of technology inside your hearing aid called a wax guard. The idea is that the wax guard enables sound to go through, but not wax. So that your hearing aid can continue to work efficiently, a wax guard is indispensable. But there are some instances where the wax guard itself could cause some troubles:

  • You haven’t changed your wax guard for some time: Wax guards need replacing like any other filter. There’s only so much cleaning you can do to a wax guard! You may have to get a new wax guard when cleaning doesn’t (you can get a specialized toolkit to make this process easier).
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard was cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard should be a monthly (or so) upkeep routine. A wax guard filters out the wax but sometimes it gets clogged and just like any kind of filter, it has to get cleaned. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is plugging up the wax guard and every now and then, you will have to clean it.
  • A professional check and clean is needed: At least once a year you need to get your hearing aid professionally cleaned and checked to be sure it’s working properly. And in order to be certain that your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you should also get your hearing tested regularly.
  • Your hearing aid shell needs to be cleaned: When you’re switching your earwax guard, it’s essential that your hearing aid shell be correctly cleaned as well. If your hearing aid shell is plugged with earwax, it’s possible some of that wax may find its way into the inside of the device while you’re swapping the guard (and this would obviously impede the efficiency of your hearing aids).
  • You have replaced your wax guard with the incorrect model: Every model and maker has a different wax guard. If you purchase the wrong model for your particular hearing aid, your device’s functions may be diminished, and that may result in the hearing aid sounding “weak.”

Make sure you follow the included instruction for best results with your wax guard.

After I Switch Out my Earwax Guard

You should hear substantially better sound quality once you change your wax guard. You’ll be able to hear (and follow along with) conversations again. And that can be a real relief if you’ve been disappointed with your (fully charged) hearing aid.

Similar to any complex device, hearing aids do call for some regular maintenance, and there is undoubtedly a learning curve involved. So don’t forget: if your hearing aid sounds weak and your batteries are fully charged, it may 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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