Hearing Health Blog

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

Your hearing aids don’t sound the way they should despite the fact that you recently changed the batteries. Everything seems dull, distant, and just a little off. It’s like you aren’t hearing the full sound you’re supposed to be experiencing. When you research the situation, a battery issue appears to be the most likely cause. Which annoys you because you charge the batteries each night.

But here you are with a group of friends and you can’t quite hear their conversation. You bought hearing aids to avoid this exact situation. You may want to check one more possibility before you get too annoyed about your hearing aids: earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Live in Your Ears

Your hearing aids live in your ear, in most cases. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear design. And for ideal efficiency, other designs have been designed to be positioned directly in the ear canal. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor no matter where your hearing aid is situated.

A Guard Against Earwax

Now, earwax does lots of great things for the health of your ears ((many infection can actually be avoided 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–earwax moisture, particularly, can hinder the normal function of hearing aids. Luckily, this isn’t really a surprise to hearing aid manufacturers and earwax doesn’t often move in unpredictable ways.

So modern hearing aids have shields, referred to as wax guards, designed to prevent earwax from impacting the general performance of your device. And those wax guards could be what’s causing 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 concept is that the wax guard allows sound to pass through, but not wax. Wax guards are crucial for your hearing aid to continue working correctly. But problems can be caused by the wax guard itself in some situations:

  • Cleaning your earwax guard needs to be done once a month: it’s been too long since you’ve cleaned them. A wax guard blocks the wax but it can become clogged and like 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.
  • Your hearing aid shell is dirty: When you’re changing your earwax guard, it’s important that your hearing aid shell be properly cleaned as well. 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, naturally, this would hinder the function of the hearing aid).
  • You’ve replaced your wax guard with the incorrect model: Every 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.
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been replaced: Just like any other filter, eventually, the wax guard will no longer be able to properly perform its task. A wax guard can only be cleaned so much. When cleaning no longer does the trick, you may have to replace your wax guard (you can purchase a special toolkit to make this process easier).
  • A professional clean and check is required: In order to be certain that your hearing aid is functioning correctly, it needs to be cleaned once a year. And in order to be certain that your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you should also have your hearing tested routinely.

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

After I Switch Out my Earwax Guard

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

Similar to any complex device, hearing aids do require some regular maintenance, and there is certainly a learning curve involved. So just remember: if your hearing aid sounds weak and your batteries are fully charged, it could be time to change your earwax guard.

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