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

You just changed the batteries, but your hearing aids just don’t sound right. Things just don’t sound right, like they’re a little dull and distant. It’s like you aren’t hearing the full sound you’re supposed to be experiencing. 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 quite careful about setting your hearing aid on the charging platform before you go to sleep every night.

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

A Home in Your Ears

Your hearing aids live in your ear, in most cases. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear design. And for optimal performance, other models have been designed to be positioned directly in the ear canal. Regardless of where your hearing aid is situated, it will be close to an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

Earwax Guards

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 properties of earwax, according to various studies). So earwax is not a bad thing.

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

So a protective component, called wax guards, have been put in place so that the normal function of your device isn’t impeded by earwax. And those wax guards may be what’s causing the “weak” sound.

Things to Know About Wax Guards

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

  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been changed: Wax guards need replacing like any other filter. A wax guard can only be cleaned so many times. You might have to get a new wax guard when cleaning no longer works (you can purchase a special toolkit to make this process easier).
  • When you purchased your new wax guards, you got the wrong model: Most hearing aid manufacturers have their own unique wax guard design. Sound that is “weak” can be the outcome if you buy the wrong wax guard for your model.
  • Your hearing aid shell needs to be cleaned: When you’re switching your earwax guard, it’s essential that your hearing aid shell be properly cleaned as well. If earwax is clogging your device, it’s feasible, while you’re swapping out the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the interior of the hearing aid (and this would obviously hamper the efficiency of your hearing aids).
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard was cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard should be a monthly (or so) maintenance task. A wax guard blocks the wax but sometimes it gets clogged and just like any type of filter, it needs to get cleaned. Every now and then, 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 time for a professional clean and check: At least once a year you need to get your hearing aid professionally cleaned and checked to make certain it’s working properly. And in order to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you should also get your hearing tested on a regular basis.

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

After I Change my Earwax Guard

Once you’ve changed over your earwax guard, your hearing aids should start providing clearer sounds. You’ll be able to hear (and follow) conversations again. And if you’ve been dealing with poor sound from your hearing aids, this can be quite a relief.

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

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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