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

Your hearing aids don’t sound the way they should even though you just changed the batteries. Everything seems distant, muffled, and just a little off. It’s like you aren’t hearing the full sound you’re supposed to be getting. When you try to diagnose the issue with a simple Google search, the most probable answer seems like a low battery. And that’s irritating because you’re really careful about putting your hearing aid on the charging station before you go to bed each night.

And yet, here you are, fighting to listen as your bunch of friends have a conversation near you. This is exactly the scenario you bought hearing aids to avoid. Before you get too aggravated with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this diminished sound you might want to check: your own earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Live in Your Ears

Your ears are where your hearing aids live under normal circumstances. Even when you wear an over-the-ear design, there’s at least contact with your ear canal. Other versions are manufactured to be positioned inside the ear canal for optimal efficiency. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor no matter where your hearing aid is situated.

A Guard Against Earwax

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

But the relationship between earwax and hearing aids isn’t always helpful–earwax moisture, especially, can interfere with the normal operation of hearing aids. Luckily, this isn’t really 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, designed to stop earwax from impacting the general function of your device. And the “weak” sound might be brought about by these wax guards.

Wax Guard Etiquette

A wax guard is a little piece of technology that is incorporated into your hearing aid. Wax can’t go through but sound can. Wax guards are essential for your hearing aid to keep working properly. But issues can be caused by the wax guard itself in certain situations:

  • 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 needs to get cleaned. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is clogging up the wax guard and every once in a while, you will want to clean it.
  • A professional check and clean is required: At least once per year you need to have your hearing aid professionally checked and cleaned to make certain it’s working correctly. You should also consider having your hearing examined regularly to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been replaced: Wax guards wear out like any other filter. There’s only so much cleaning that can be done to a wax guard! When cleaning no longer does the trick, you might have to replace your wax guard (in order to make this easier, you can get a toolkit made specifically for this).
  • When you purchased your new wax guards, you got the wrong one: Most hearing aid makers have their own unique wax guard design. If you purchase the wrong model for your particular hearing aid, your device’s functions may be diminished, and that could lead to the hearing aid sounding “weak.”
  • You have a dirty hearing aid shell: When you’re switching your earwax guard, it’s important that your hearing aid shell be properly cleaned as well. If earwax is clogging your device, it’s possible, while you’re swapping out the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the inside of the hearing aid (and this would obviously impede the function of your hearing aids).

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

I Changed my Wax Guard, What’s Next?

Once you’ve changed your earwax guard, your hearing aids should start producing clearer sounds. Hearing and following conversation should get much better. And if you’ve been coping with weak sound from your hearing aids, this can be quite a relief.

There’s undoubtedly a learning curve in regards to maintaining any complex device such as hearing aids. So just keep in mind: if your hearing aid sounds weak and your batteries have a full charge, it might be time to change your earwax guard.

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