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

You just exchanged the batteries, but your hearing aids still don’t sound right. Things just don’t sound right, like they’re a little bit muffled and far away. 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 solution seems to be a low battery. And that’s aggravating because you’re very diligent about placing your hearing aid on the charging station before you go to bed each night.

Even so, here you are, fighting to listen as your bunch of friends have a conversation near you. This is exactly the situation you got hearing aids to avoid. Before you get too upset with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this diminished sound you may want to check: your own earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Reside in Your Ears

Your hearing aids reside in your ear, normally. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear design. And for optimal performance, other versions have been created to be positioned directly in the ear canal. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor regardless of where your hearing aid is positioned.

Earwax Guards

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

But earwax and hearing aids don’t always work together quite as well–the moisture in earwax, particularly, can hinder the normal operation of hearing aids. Fortunately, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well mindful of it.

So a safety feature, known as wax guards, have been put in place so that the normal function of your device isn’t hampered by earwax. And those wax guards might be what’s causing the “weak” sound.

Things to Know About Wax Guards

There is a little piece of technology in your hearing aid called a wax guard. The concept is that the wax guard lets sound to get through, but not wax. Wax guards are a must for your hearing aid to keep working properly. But troubles can be created by the wax guard itself in certain circumstances:

  • When you purchased your new wax guards, you got the wrong one: Every model and maker has a different wax guard. If you purchase the wrong model for your specific hearing aid, your device’s functions might be impaired, and that could lead to the hearing aid sounding “weak.”
  • Your hearing aid shell is dirty: When you’re switching your earwax guard, it’s essential that your hearing aid shell be properly cleaned as well. If your device shell is plugged with earwax, it’s feasible some of that wax could make its way into the interior of the device while you’re changing the guard (and, naturally, this would hamper the function of the hearing aid).
  • Cleaning your earwax guard needs to be done once each month: it’s been too long since you’ve cleaned them. As with any filter, a wax guard can ultimately become clogged with the exact thing it’s been tasked with eliminating. Every once in a while, you’ll have to clean the guard or the wax stuck in it will begin to block sound waves and mess up your hearing.
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been changed: Wax guards wear out like any other filter. A wax guard can only be cleaned so many times. When cleaning no longer does the trick, you may have to change your wax guard (so that you can make this easier, you can purchase a toolkit made specifically for this).
  • You need a professional check and clean: In order to be sure that your hearing aid is working properly, it needs to be cleaned once per year. You should also consider having your hearing examined on a regular basis to be certain your hearing hasn’t changed at all.

If you purchase 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

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

As with any complex device, hearing aids do require some routine maintenance, and there is undoubtedly a learning curve involved. So just keep in mind: if your hearing aid is sounding weak and your batteries are fully charged, it might be time to replace your earwax guard.

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