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Man with his hand to his ear because he cannot hear even with hearing aids.

 

You just changed the batteries, but your hearing aids still don’t sound right. Everything sounds muffled, distant, and just a little off. It’s like you aren’t hearing the full sound you’re supposed to be receiving. When you troubleshoot the problem with a simple Google search, the most probable issue seems to be a low battery. And that’s frustrating because you’re quite diligent about putting your hearing aid on the charging platform before you go to bed every night.

And yet, here you are, struggling to listen as your group of friends carry on a conversation around you. This is exactly the situation you got hearing aids to avoid. Before get too angry with your hearing aids, there’s one more cause for this weak sound you might want to check: your own earwax.

Earwax and Hearing Aids

Your hearing aids live in your ear, usually. Even when you wear an over-the-ear model, there’s at least contact with your ear canal. Other models are designed to be placed inside the ear canal for optimal performance. Wherever your hearing aid is positioned, it will encounter an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

A Guard Against Earwax

Now, earwax does a lot of great things for the health of your ears (many studies have shown that earwax actually has antifungal and antibacterial properties that can help stave off many infections). So earwax is not a bad thing.

But earwax and hearing aids don’t always get along quite as well–the moisture in earwax, in particular, can interfere with the standard operation of hearing aids. Luckily, this isn’t exactly a surprise to hearing aid manufacturers and earwax doesn’t often move in unpredictable ways.

So modern hearing aids have safeguards, called wax guards, designed to keep earwax from interfering with the normal function of your devices. And those wax guards may be what’s causing the “weak” sound.

Wax Guard Etiquette

A wax guard is a tiny piece of technology that is incorporated into your hearing aid. The idea is that the wax guard lets sound pass through, but not wax. Wax guards are essential for your hearing aid to continue working properly. But there are some instances where the wax guard itself could cause some problems:

  • 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 eventually become clogged with the very thing it’s been tasked with filtering out. Every once in a while, you’ll need to clean the guard or the wax caught up in it will start to block sound waves and mess up your hearing.
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been replaced: As with any other filter, eventually the wax guard will no longer be able to adequately perform its task. There’s only so much cleaning you can do to a wax guard! When cleaning no longer does the trick, you may have to replace your wax guard (you can purchase a special toolkit to make this process easier).
  • You have replaced your wax guard with the wrong model: Most hearing aid manufacturers have their own special wax guard design. If you purchase the wrong model for your particular hearing aid, your device’s functions may be impaired, and that could result in the hearing aid sounding “weak.”
  • Your hearing aid shell is dirty: When you’re changing your earwax guard, it’s important that your hearing aid shell be properly cleaned as well. If your device shell is covered in earwax, it’s possible some of that wax may make its way into the interior of the device while you’re changing the guard (and this would obviously hamper the function of your hearing aids).
  • You need a professional clean and check: At least once a year you should have your hearing aid professionally cleaned and checked to make sure it’s functioning properly. You should also consider having your hearing tested regularly to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all.

If you purchase a new hearing aid guard, it will likely come with instructions, so it’s a good idea to follow those instructions to the best of your ability.

After I Change My Hearing Aid Earwax Guard

Once you’ve changed your earwax guard, your hearing aids should start producing clearer sounds. You’ll be able to hear (and follow) conversations again. And that can be a huge relief if you’ve been frustrated with your (fully charged) hearing aid.

As with any complex device, hearing aids do require some regular maintenance, and there is certainly a learning curve involved. So just remember: if your hearing aid is sounding weak and your batteries have a full charge, it might be time to change your earwax guard.

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