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

Your hearing aids don’t sound right even though you recently changed the batteries. Everything seems dull, distant, and not right. It’s like some of the sound isn’t there. When you do some basic research, a battery issue seems to be the most likely reason. And that’s irritating because you’re quite careful about putting your hearing aid on the charging platform before you go to bed every night.

Even so, here you are, struggling to listen as your bunch of friends have a conversation near you. You bought hearing aids to avoid this exact situation. Before you get too mad with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this weak sound you might want to check: your own earwax.

A Residence in Your Ears

Your hearing aids reside in your ear, normally. Even when you use an over-the-ear model, there’s at least contact with your ear canal. And for ideal performance, other models have been created to be positioned directly in the ear canal. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor no matter where your hearing aid is situated.

Earwax Guards

Now, earwax does lots of great things for the health of your ears (numerous studies have demonstrated that earwax ,in fact, has anti-fungal and antibacterial attributes that can help prevent numerous infections). So earwax can actually be a positive thing.

But the interaction between earwax and hearing aids is not always helpful–earwax moisture, especially, can interfere with the normal function of hearing aids. The good thing is, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well mindful of it.

So a safety feature, called wax guards, have been integrated so that the effective function of your device isn’t impeded by earwax. And the “weak” sound could be caused by these wax guards.

Things to Know About Wax Guards

A wax guard is a small piece of technology that is bundled into your hearing aid. The concept is that the wax guard lets sound to pass through, but not wax. So that your hearing aid can continue to work properly, a wax guard is indispensable. But issues can be created by the wax guard itself in certain circumstances:

  • A professional check and clean is required: In order to be certain that your hearing aid is working properly, it should be cleaned once every year. And in order to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you also need to get your hearing tested on a regular basis.
  • You haven’t changed your wax guard for some time: Wax guards wear out like any other filter. A wax guard can only be cleaned so much. You may need to get a new wax guard if cleaning doesn’t (you can get a special toolkit to make this process smoother).
  • Cleaning your earwax guard should be done once each month: it’s been too long since you’ve cleaned them. A wax guard filters out the wax but it can become clogged and as with any kind of filter, it has to be cleaned. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is plugging up the wax guard and every once in a while, you will want to clean it.
  • You have replaced your wax guard with the wrong model: Each model and maker has a different wax guard. Sound that is “weak” can be the outcome if you purchase the wrong wax guard for your model.
  • You have an unclean hearing aid shell: And let’s remember your hearing aid shell, which also needs to be cleaned when you change your wax guard. If earwax is covering your hearing aid, it’s possible some of that wax could make its way into the interior of the device while you’re swapping the guard (and, obviously, this would hamper the function of the hearing aid).

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

After I Change my Earwax Guard

Once you’ve changed over your earwax guard, your hearing aids should start providing clearer sounds. You’ll be able to hear (and follow) conversations again. And if you’ve been dealing with poor sound quality from your hearing aids, this can be a real relief.

Like with any specialized device, hearing aids do call for some regular maintenance, and there’s definitely a learning curve involved. So don’t forget: It’s most likely time to replace your wax guard if the sound quality of your hearing aid is weak even with a fully charged battery.

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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