Hearing Health Blog

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

You just swapped out the batteries, but your hearing aids still don’t sound the way they should. Everything seems dull, distant, and not right. It’s like you can’t hear the full sound you’re supposed to be receiving. When you research the situation, a low battery seems to be the probable cause. Which annoys you because you charge the batteries every night.

But here you are with a group of friends and you can’t quite hear their conversation. This is exactly the situation you bought hearing aids to prevent. Before you get too aggravated with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this weak sound you may want to check: your own 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 design. Other models are designed to be placed inside the ear canal for best efficiency. No matter where your hearing aid is positioned, it will encounter an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

Earwax Guards

Now, earwax does some great things for the health of your ears (many studies have shown that earwax actually has anti-fungal and antibacterial qualities that can help stave off various infections). So earwax can actually be a positive thing.

But hearing aids and earwax don’t always work together quite as well–the normal functionality of your hearing aid can be impeded by earwax, peculiarly the moisture. The good news is, this isn’t really a surprise to hearing aid makers and earwax doesn’t often move in unpredictable ways.

So a protective 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 may be brought about by these wax guards.

Wax Guard Etiquette

There is a little piece of technology inside your hearing aid called a wax guard. Wax can’t go through but sound can. In order for your hearing aid to continue to work efficiently, a wax guard is essential. But there are some circumstances where the wax guard itself might cause some problems:

  • You have an unclean hearing aid shell: 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 device, it’s feasible some of that wax may make its way into the interior of the device while you’re changing the guard (and this would obviously hinder the efficiency of your hearing aids).
  • When you purchased your new wax guards, you got the wrong one: Most hearing aid providers have their own special wax guard design. 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 changed: As with any other filter, sooner or later the wax guard will no longer be able to properly perform its task. There’s only so much cleaning you can do to a wax guard! You may need to get a new wax guard if cleaning no longer works (in order to make this easier, you can buy a toolkit made specifically for this).
  • It’s time for a professional check and clean: In order to be certain that your hearing aid is functioning properly, it needs to be cleaned once a year. And in order to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you also need to have your hearing tested on a regular basis.
  • Cleaning your earwax guard needs to be done once each 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 once in a while, you will have to clean it.

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

After I Change my Earwax Guard

You should observe substantially better sound quality once you change your wax guard. Hearing and following conversation should be much easier. And that’s a real relief if you’ve been annoyed with your (fully charged) hearing aid.

There’s definitely a learning curve in regards to maintaining any specialized device like hearing aids. So just remember: It’s most likely time to replace your wax guard if the sound quality of your hearing aid is poor even with a fully charged battery.

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