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

Your hearing aids aren’t sounding right even though you recently changed the batteries. Everything seems distant, muffled, and not right. It seems like some of the sound isn’t there. When you try to diagnose the issue with a basic Google search, the most likely solution seems to be a low battery. And that’s aggravating because you’re really careful about putting your hearing aid on the charging station before you go to bed every night.

But here you are with some friends and you can’t quite hear their conversation. This is precisely the situation you got hearing aids to prevent. Before you get too angry with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this weak sound you may want to check out: your own earwax.

A Residence in Your Ears

Your ears are where your hearing aids live under typical circumstances. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear model. And for ideal efficiency, other models have been created to be placed directly in the ear canal. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor no matter where your hearing aid is positioned.

A Guard Against Earwax

Now, earwax does lots of important things for the health of your ears ((numerous infection can actually be avoided because of the antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities of earwax, according to various studies). So earwax can actually be a good thing.

But the relationship between hearing aids and earwax is not always helpful–earwax moisture, especially, can interfere with the standard operation of hearing aids. Fortunately, this isn’t exactly a surprise to hearing aid makers and earwax doesn’t usually move in unpredictable ways.

So a protective component, called wax guards, have been put in place so that the effective function of your device isn’t hampered by earwax. And the “weak” sound might be caused by these wax guards.

Wax Guard Etiquette

A wax guard is a small piece of technology that is integrated into your hearing aid. The concept is that the wax guard allows sound to get through, but not wax. In order for your hearing aid to continue to work effectively, a wax guard is indispensable. But troubles can be caused by the wax guard itself in certain cases:

  • Your hearing aid shell needs to be cleaned: When you’re changing your earwax guard, it’s essential that your hearing aid shell be correctly cleaned also. If earwax is covering your device, it’s possible some of that wax could make its way into the interior of the device while you’re changing the guard (and this would clearly hamper the efficiency of your hearing aids).
  • Cleaning your earwax guard needs to be done once every month: it’s been too long since you last cleaned them. A wax guard filters out the wax but sometimes it gets clogged and as with any kind of filter, it needs to be cleaned. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is plugging up the wax guard and once in a while, you will have to clean it.
  • A professional clean and check is needed: At least once per year you need to have your hearing aid professionally cleaned and checked to be certain it’s working properly. And in order to be certain that your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you also need to have your hearing tested on a regular basis.
  • You haven’t changed your wax guard for a while: Like any other filter, sooner or later the wax guard will no longer be able to effectively perform its task. There’s only so much cleaning you can do to a wax guard! You might have to get a new wax guard if cleaning doesn’t (in order to make this easier, you can purchase a toolkit made specifically for this).
  • You have replaced your wax guard with the incorrect model: Most hearing aid manufacturers have their own specialized wax guard design. If you buy the wrong model for your specific hearing aid, your device’s functions could be impaired, and that may lead to the hearing aid sounding “weak.”

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

I Changed my Wax Guard, What’s Next?

You should notice substantially improved sound quality once you change your wax guard. Hearing and following conversation should be much better. And that can be a big relief if you’ve been aggravated with your (fully charged) hearing aid.

There’s undoubtedly a learning curve when it comes to maintaining any complex device like hearing aids. So don’t forget: if your hearing aid is sounding weak and your batteries have a full charge, it may be time to change your earwax guard.

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