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

Your hearing aids don’t sound right even though you recently changed the batteries. Things just don’t sound right, like they’re a little bit muffled and distant. It’s like you can’t hear the full sound you’re supposed to be experiencing. When you troubleshoot the issue with a simple Google search, the most likely answer seems to be a low battery. And that’s frustrating because you’re quite careful about placing your hearing aid on the charging station before you go to bed each night.

And yet, here you are, struggling to hear your group of friends carry on a discussion near you. This is precisely the scenario you got hearing aids to prevent. You may want to check out one more possibility before you become too aggravated about your hearing aids: earwax.

A Home in Your Ears

Your ears are where your hearing aids live under normal circumstances. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear model. And for best efficiency, other versions have been designed to be positioned directly in the ear canal. Wherever your hearing aid is situated, it will encounter an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

A Guard Against Earwax

Now, earwax does a lot of important things for the health of your ears ((numerous infection can actually be prevented because of the antibacterial and anti-fungal properties of earwax, according to numerous studies). So earwax isn’t a negative thing.

But earwax and hearing aids don’t always work together quite as well–the moisture in earwax, especially, can hinder the standard function of hearing aids. Fortunately, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well aware of it.

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

Things to Know About Wax Guards

A wax guard is a small piece of technology that is incorporated into your hearing aid. The idea is that the wax guard lets sound to go through, but not wax. So that your hearing aid can keep working efficiently, a wax guard is essential. But problems can be created by the wax guard itself in certain circumstances:

  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been replaced: Like any other filter, eventually, the wax guard will no longer be able to adequately perform its job. There’s only so much cleaning you can do to a wax guard! When cleaning no longer does the trick, you might have to change your wax guard (you can get a specialized toolkit to make this process easier).
  • It’s time for a professional clean and check: At least once every year you need to get your hearing aid professionally cleaned and checked to be sure it’s functioning correctly. You should also consider having your hearing checked regularly to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
  • Your hearing aid shell needs to be cleaned: And let’s not forget your hearing aid shell, which also has to be cleaned when you switch out your wax guard. If earwax is clogging your hearing aid, it’s possible some of that wax could find its way into the inside of the device while you’re swapping the guard (and, obviously, this would hinder the function of the hearing aid).
  • Cleaning your earwax guard needs to be done once a month: it’s been too long since you last cleaned them. As with any filter, a wax guard can ultimately become clogged with the very thing it’s been tasked with filtering out. Every now and then, you’ll need to clean the guard or the wax caught up in it will begin to block sound waves and damage your hearing.
  • You’ve replaced your wax guard with the wrong model: Most hearing aid manufacturers have their own special wax guard design. If you purchase the wrong model for your particular hearing aid, your device’s functions might be impaired, and that may result in the hearing aid sounding “weak.”

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

After I Switch Out my Earwax Guard

You should observe much improved sound quality after you change your wax guard. You’ll be able to hear (and follow) conversations again. And that can be a real relief if you’ve been annoyed with your (fully charged) hearing aid.

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

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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