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

You just exchanged the batteries, but your hearing aids just don’t sound right. Things just sound off, like they’re a little muffled and distant. It’s like you aren’t hearing the full sound you’re supposed to be receiving. When you do some basic research, a battery issue seems to be the most likely reason. Which frustrates you because you keep the batteries charged each night.

But here you are with a group of friends and you can’t quite hear their discussion. This is precisely the scenario you bought hearing aids to avoid. You might want to check out one more possibility before you become too angry about your hearing aids: earwax.

A Residence in Your Ears

Your hearing aids reside in your ear, normally. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear model. And for optimal efficiency, other models have been designed to be placed 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 some important things for the health of your ears (numerous studies have revealed that earwax actually has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that can help stave off various infections). So earwax isn’t a bad thing.

But earwax and hearing aids don’t always work together quite as well–the standard operation of your hearing aid can be hindered by earwax, peculiarly the moisture. The good thing is, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well mindful of it.

So a safety feature, known as wax guards, have been integrated so that the effective function of your device isn’t impeded by earwax. And those wax guards could be what’s causing the “weak” sound.

Things to Know About Wax Guards

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

  • A professional clean and check is needed: At least once per year you need to have your hearing aid professionally checked and cleaned to make certain it’s functioning properly. You should also consider having your hearing examined regularly to be certain your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been replaced: Wax guards need replacing like any other filter. A wax guard can only be cleaned so much. When cleaning no longer does the trick, you might have to replace your wax guard (you can get a specialized toolkit to make this process easier).
  • When you bought 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 get the wrong wax guard for your model.
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard should be a monthly (or so) maintenance task. As with any filter, a wax guard can ultimately become clogged with the very thing it’s been tasked with eliminating. Every once in a while, you’ll need to clean the guard or the wax stuck in it will begin to block sound waves and mess up your hearing.
  • You have an unclean hearing aid shell: When you’re switching your earwax guard, it’s important that your hearing aid shell be correctly cleaned as well. If your device shell is covered with earwax, it’s possible some of that wax may make its way into the interior of the device while you’re swapping the guard (and, naturally, this would hamper the function of the hearing aid).

If you get a new hearing aid guard, it will most likely come with instructions, so it’s a good idea to follow those instructions the best you can.

I Changed my Wax Guard, What’s Next?

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

There’s definitely a learning curve with regards to maintaining any specialized device such as hearing aids. So just keep in mind: It’s most likely time to change your wax guard if the sound quality of your hearing aid is weak even when the battery is fully charged.

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