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 sound off, like they’re a little muffled and far away. It’s like some of the sound is missing. When you troubleshoot the issue with a basic Google search, the most probable answer seems to be a low battery. Which frustrates you because you keep the batteries charged each night.

But here you are with a group of friends and you can’t really hear their discussion. You bought hearing aids to avoid this exact situation. Before you get too mad with your hearing aids, there’s one more cause for this weak sound you may want to check: your own earwax.

A Residence in Your Ears

Your ears are where your hearing aids reside under normal circumstances. Even when you wear an over-the-ear model, there’s at least contact with your ear canal. Other models are designed to be positioned inside the ear canal for ideal results. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor regardless of where your hearing aid is situated.

Earwax Guards

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

But the relationship between hearing aids and earwax is not always helpful–earwax moisture, in particular, can impact the normal operation of hearing aids. On the plus side, this isn’t really a surprise to hearing aid manufacturers and earwax doesn’t usually move in unpredictable ways.

So modern hearing aids have safeguards, referred to as wax guards, designed to stop earwax from impacting the general performance of your device. And the “weak” sound might be brought about by these wax guards.

Wax Guard Etiquette

There is a small piece of technology in your hearing aid called a wax guard. Wax can’t go through but sound can. Wax guards are essential for your hearing aid to keep working properly. But troubles can be caused by the wax guard itself in some situations:

  • When you purchased your new wax guards, you got the wrong model: Each model and maker has a different wax guard. If you get the wrong model for your particular hearing aid, your device’s functions might be diminished, and that may result in the hearing aid sounding “weak.”
  • You have a dirty hearing aid shell: When you’re switching your earwax guard, it’s essential that your hearing aid shell be properly cleaned as well. If your hearing aid shell is plugged with earwax, it’s feasible, while you’re changing the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the interior of the hearing aid (and this would clearly impede the efficiency of your hearing aids).
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard needs to be a monthly (or so) maintenance routine. Much like 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 have to clean the guard or the wax stuck in it will start to block sound waves and mess up your hearing.
  • A professional clean and check is required: In order to be sure that your hearing aid is working properly, it should be cleaned once a year. And in order to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you also need to have your hearing tested regularly.
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been changed: Wax guards need replacing like any other filter. There’s only so much cleaning that can be done to a wax guard! When cleaning no longer does the trick, you may have to change your wax guard (you can buy a specialized toolkit to make this process easier).

Be certain you follow the included instruction for best success with your wax guard.

After I Switch Out my Earwax Guard

You should notice substantially improved sound quality once you switch your wax guard. You’ll be able to hear (and follow) conversations again. And that can be a big relief if you’ve been annoyed with your (fully charged) hearing aid.

There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to maintaining any complex device like hearing aids. So don’t forget: It’s probably time to replace your wax guard if the sound quality of your hearing aid is weak even with a fully charged battery.

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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