Hearing Assessment Center, LLC - Lutherville, Bel Air, and  Nottingham, MD

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. Everything sounds dull, distant, and not right. It’s like you can’t hear the full sound you’re supposed to be getting. 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 setting your hearing aid on the charging platform before you go to sleep every night.

But here you are with a group of friends and you can’t really hear their conversation. This is precisely the scenario you got hearing aids to avoid. Before you get too upset with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this weak sound you may want to check: your own earwax.

A Residence in Your Ears

Your ears are where your hearing aids live under normal circumstances. Even when you use an over-the-ear design, there’s at least contact with your ear canal. Other models are designed to be positioned in the ear canal for ideal efficiency. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor regardless of where your hearing aid is positioned.

Earwax Guards

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

But the relationship between hearing aids and earwax isn’t always so good–the moisture in earwax, particularly, can hinder the standard function of hearing aids. Luckily, this isn’t really a surprise to hearing aid manufacturers and earwax doesn’t usually move in unpredictable ways.

So a safety component, called wax guards, have been put in place so that the normal function of your device isn’t hampered by earwax. And the “weak” sound could be caused by these wax guards.

Wax Guard Etiquette

A wax guard is a small piece of technology that is integrated into your hearing aid. Wax can’t pass through but sound can. So that your hearing aid can keep working properly, a wax guard is crucial. But there are some instances where the wax guard itself could cause some problems:

  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been changed: Wax guards need replacing like any other filter. A wax guard can only be cleaned so much. When cleaning no longer does the trick, you may have to change your wax guard (in order to make this smoother, you can get a toolkit made specifically for this).
  • You have replaced your wax guard with the incorrect model: Each model and maker has a different wax guard. Sound that is “weak” can be the result if you get the wrong wax guard for your model.
  • A professional clean and check 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 have your hearing tested routinely.
  • Cleaning your earwax guard should be done once every month: it’s been too long since you’ve cleaned them. Much like any filter, a wax guard can eventually become clogged with the very thing it’s been tasked with eliminating. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is plugging up the wax guard and on occasion, you will have to clean it.
  • 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 switch out your wax guard. If earwax is clogging your hearing aid, it’s possible, while you’re changing the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the inside of the hearing aid (and, naturally, this would hinder the function of the hearing aid).

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

After I Change my Earwax Guard

Once you’ve changed your earwax guard, your hearing aids should begin producing clearer sounds. Hearing and following conversation should become much better. And if you’ve been coping with poor sound from your hearing aids, this can be quite a relief.

There’s undoubtedly a learning curve with regards to maintaining any complex device like hearing aids. So don’t forget: if your hearing aid sounds weak and your batteries are fully charged, it may be time to replace your earwax guard.

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