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

Your hearing aids aren’t sounding right despite the fact that you recently changed the batteries. Everything sounds distant, dull, and not right. It’s like some of the sound isn’t there. When you do some basic research, a battery issue appears to be the most likely reason. Which annoys you because you keep the batteries charged each night.

Even so, here you are, struggling to listen as your group of friends carry on a conversation near you. This is exactly the situation you got hearing aids to prevent. You may want to check one more possibility before you get too annoyed about your hearing aids: earwax.

A Home in Your Ears

Your ears are the place where your hearing aids reside under typical circumstances. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear model. And for ideal efficiency, other versions have been designed to be positioned directly in the ear canal. No matter where your hearing aid is positioned, it will be close to an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

A Shield Against Earwax

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

But earwax and hearing aids don’t always work together quite as well–the standard operation of your hearing aid can be hindered by earwax, peculiarly the moisture. On the plus side, this isn’t exactly a surprise to hearing aid manufacturers and earwax doesn’t usually move in unpredictable ways.

So modern hearing aids have safeguards, referred to as wax guards, created to prevent earwax from impacting the general performance of your device. 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 inside your hearing aid known as a wax guard. The idea is that the wax guard allows sound to go through, but not wax. In order for your hearing aid to continue to work efficiently, a wax guard is crucial. But there are some circumstances where the wax guard itself might cause some troubles:

  • A professional check and clean is required: In order to be certain that your hearing aid is functioning correctly, it needs to be cleaned once every year. You should also consider having your hearing evaluated on a regular basis to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard was cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard should be a monthly (or so) maintenance routine. A wax guard blocks the wax but it can become clogged and just like any kind of filter, it needs to get cleaned. Every now and then, you’ll need to clean the guard or the wax stuck in it will start to block sound waves and mess up your hearing.
  • Your hearing aid shell is dirty: And let’s remember your hearing aid shell, which also needs to be cleaned when you change your wax guard. If your device shell is plugged 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, naturally, this would hinder the function of the hearing aid).
  • You’ve replaced your wax guard with the wrong 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 impaired, and that could result in the hearing aid sounding “weak.”
  • 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 much. You might need to get a new wax guard when cleaning no longer works (in order to make this easier, you can purchase a toolkit made specifically for this).

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

I Changed my Wax Guard, What’s Next?

You should notice substantially improved sound quality after you change your wax guard. Hearing and following discussions should become much better. And if you’ve been coping with poor sound from your hearing aids, this can be a real relief.

There’s definitely a learning curve with regards to maintaining any specialized 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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