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

You just exchanged the batteries, but your hearing aids still don’t sound the way they should. Things just don’t sound right, like they’re a little dull and far away. It seems like some of the sound isn’t there. When you troubleshoot the issue with a simple Google search, the most probable solution seems like a low battery. And that’s frustrating because you’re very diligent about placing your hearing aid on the charging platform before you go to bed every night.

But here you are with a group of friends and you can’t really hear their discussion. This is exactly the scenario you bought hearing aids to prevent. Before you get too aggravated with your hearing aids, there’s one more cause for this diminished sound you may want to check: your own earwax.

A Home in Your Ears

Your hearing aids live in your ear, usually. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear model. Other models are manufactured to be positioned inside the ear canal for best efficiency. Regardless of where your hearing aid is situated, it will encounter an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

A Shield Against Earwax

Now, earwax does a lot 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 stave off numerous infections). So earwax can actually be a good thing.

But the interaction between hearing aids and earwax is not always so good–the normal functionality of your hearing aid can be hindered by earwax, peculiarly the moisture. The good news is, this isn’t exactly a surprise to hearing aid manufacturers and earwax doesn’t usually move in unpredictable ways.

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

Things to Know About Wax Guards

There is a little piece of technology in your hearing aid called a wax guard. Wax can’t go through but sound can. In order for your hearing aid to keep working efficiently, a wax guard is indispensable. But problems can be created by the wax guard itself in certain situations:

  • You have an unclean hearing aid shell: 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 covered with earwax, it’s feasible some of that wax could find its way into the interior of the device while you’re changing the guard (and this would clearly impede the efficiency of your hearing aids).
  • You’ve replaced your wax guard with the incorrect model: Most hearing aid makers have their own specialized wax guard design. Sound that is “weak” can be the result if you get the wrong wax guard for your model.
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard needs to be a monthly (or so) upkeep routine. As with any filter, a wax guard can eventually become clogged with the exact thing it’s been tasked with filtering out. Every once in a while, you’ll have to clean the guard or the wax stuck in it will start to block sound waves and mess up your hearing.
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been replaced: Wax guards wear out like any other filter. There’s only so much cleaning you can do to a wax guard! When cleaning no longer does the trick, you may have to replace your wax guard (you can buy a specialized toolkit to make this process easier).
  • It’s time for a professional clean and check: In order to be sure that your hearing aid is functioning properly, it should be cleaned once a year. And in order to be certain that your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you also need to have your hearing tested routinely.

Make certain you follow the included instruction for best success with your wax guard.

After I Change my Earwax Guard

You should notice substantially improved sound quality after you change your wax guard. You’ll be able to hear (and follow along with) conversations again. And if you’ve been coping with inferior sound from your hearing aids, this can be a real relief.

There’s undoubtedly a learning curve when it comes to maintaining any specialized device like hearing aids. So don’t forget: It’s most likely time to change your wax guard if the sound quality of your hearing aid is poor 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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