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

Your hearing aids aren’t sounding the way they should despite the fact that you recently changed the batteries. Things just sound off, like they’re a little muffled and far away. It’s like you aren’t hearing the full sound you’re supposed to be experiencing. When you do some basic research, a battery issue appears to be the probable reason. Which annoys you because you charge the batteries each night.

But here you are with some friends and you can’t really hear their conversation. This is exactly the scenario you bought hearing aids to avoid. Before you get too upset with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this diminished sound you may want to check out: your own earwax.

A Residence in Your Ears

Your hearing aids live in your ear, in most cases. Even when you use an over-the-ear model, there’s at least contact with your ear canal. And for optimal efficiency, other designs 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 a lot of important things for the health of your ears ((various infection can actually be prevented because of the antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities of earwax, according to various studies). So earwax can actually be a positive thing.

But earwax and hearing aids don’t always get along quite as well–the standard functionality of your hearing aid can be hampered 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 shields, known as wax guards, created to keep earwax from impacting the general performance of your device. And the “weak” sound may be brought about by these wax guards.

Things to Know About Wax Guards

A wax guard is a little piece of technology that is integrated into your hearing aid. The concept is that the wax guard allows sound to go through, but not wax. So that your hearing aid can keep working efficiently, a wax guard is crucial. But problems can be created by the wax guard itself in certain situations:

  • Your hearing aid shell is dirty: When you’re changing your earwax guard, it’s important that your hearing aid shell be correctly cleaned also. If your device shell is covered with earwax, it’s feasible some of that wax could make its way into the interior of the device while you’re swapping the guard (and this would clearly impede the function of your hearing aids).
  • You’ve replaced your wax guard with the wrong model: Each model and maker has a different wax guard. Sound that is “weak” can be the result if you buy the wrong wax guard for your model.
  • You haven’t changed your wax guard for a while: 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 might have to replace your wax guard (you can buy a specialized toolkit to make this process easier).
  • You need a professional clean and check: In order to be certain that your hearing aid is working correctly, it needs to be cleaned once every year. You should also think about having your hearing tested on a regular basis to be certain your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
  • Cleaning your earwax guard needs to be done once each month: it’s been too long since you last 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 now and then, you will need to clean it.

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

After I Switch Out my Earwax Guard

You should hear substantially better sound quality after you switch your wax guard. You’ll be able to hear (and follow) conversations again. And if you’ve been coping with weak sound quality from your hearing aids, this can be quite a relief.

There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to maintaining any complex device such as hearing aids. 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.

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