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 dull, distant, and just a little off. It seems like some of the sound isn’t there. When you try to diagnose the problem with a simple Google search, the most plausible solution seems to be a low battery. And that’s aggravating because you’re really diligent about setting your hearing aid on the charging platform before you go to bed each night.

Nevertheless, here you are, fighting to hear your group of friends carry on a conversation around you. This is precisely the situation you bought hearing aids to prevent. You may want to check one more possibility before you become too aggravated about your hearing aids: earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Reside in Your Ears

Your ears are the place where your hearing aids reside under normal circumstances. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear model. Other versions are designed to be placed in the ear canal for ideal efficiency. No matter where your hearing aid is situated, it will encounter an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

Earwax Guards

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

But earwax and hearing aids don’t always work together quite as well–the normal functionality of your hearing aid can be hampered by earwax, particularly the moisture. The good news is, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well mindful of it.

So modern hearing aids have safeguards, called wax guards, created to prevent earwax from interfering with the general function of your device. And the “weak” sound might be brought about by these wax guards.

Wax Guard Etiquette

There is a little piece of technology in your hearing aid known as a wax guard. Wax can’t go through but sound can. So that your hearing aid can continue to work properly, a wax guard is crucial. But there are some situations where the wax guard itself might cause some troubles:

  • When you purchased your new wax guards, you got the wrong model: Every model and maker has a different wax guard. Sound that is “weak” can be the outcome if you buy the wrong wax guard for your model.
  • It’s time for a professional check and clean: At least once a year you should have your hearing aid professionally cleaned and checked to be sure it’s working properly. You should also think about having your hearing examined regularly to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
  • Cleaning your earwax guard should be done once each month: it’s been too long since you last cleaned them. A wax guard blocks the wax but sometimes it gets clogged and as with any kind of filter, it has to get cleaned. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is clogging up the wax guard and every now and then, you will have to clean it.
  • Your hearing aid shell is dirty: When you’re changing your earwax guard, it’s essential that your hearing aid shell be properly cleaned as well. If earwax is clogging your hearing aid, it’s feasible, while you’re swapping out the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the inside of the hearing aid (and, obviously, this would hinder the function of the hearing aid).
  • 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. You might have to get a new wax guard if cleaning doesn’t (you can buy a specialized toolkit to make this process easier).

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

After I Switch Out my Earwax Guard

You should notice much better sound quality once 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 discouraged with your (fully charged) hearing aid.

There’s definitely a learning curve in 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 poor even when the battery is fully charged.

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