Gold Country Hearing - Gold Country Valley, CA

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

Your hearing aids aren’t sounding the way they should despite the fact that you recently changed the batteries. Everything sounds dull, distant, and just a little off. It’s like you aren’t hearing the full sound you’re supposed to be experiencing. When you troubleshoot the issue with a simple Google search, the most probable solution seems to be a low battery. And that’s aggravating because you’re very careful about setting your hearing aid on the charging platform before you go to bed each night.

And yet, here you are, fighting to hear your bunch of friends have a conversation around you. This is exactly the situation you got hearing aids to avoid. You might want to check out one more possibility before you become too aggravated about your hearing aids: earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Reside 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 model. Other versions are designed to be placed inside the ear canal for ideal performance. Regardless of where your hearing aid is situated, it will be close to an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

A Shield Against Earwax

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

But the relationship between hearing aids and earwax isn’t always so good–earwax moisture, in particular, can impact the normal operation of hearing aids. Fortunately, this isn’t really a surprise to hearing aid makers and earwax doesn’t often move in unpredictable ways.

So modern hearing aids have safeguards, called wax guards, designed to keep earwax from impacting the normal performance of your device. And those wax guards might be what’s causing the “weak” sound.

Things to Know About Wax Guards

There is a small piece of technology inside your hearing aid known as a wax guard. Wax can’t get 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 certain situations:

  • You haven’t changed your wax guard for a while: As with 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 that can be done to a wax guard! When cleaning no longer does the trick, you may have to change your wax guard (in order to make this smoother, you can purchase a toolkit made specifically for this).
  • Cleaning your earwax guard needs to be done once every month: it’s been too long since you last cleaned them. As with any filter, a wax guard can eventually become clogged with the exact thing it’s been tasked with filtering out. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is plugging up the wax guard and every now and then, you will need to clean it.
  • You need a professional clean and check: In order to be sure that your hearing aid is functioning correctly, it should be cleaned once every year. And in order to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you also need to get your hearing tested regularly.
  • Your hearing aid shell is dirty: And let’s remember your hearing aid shell, which also has to be cleaned when you change your wax guard. If earwax is clogging your device, it’s possible some of that wax could find its way into the interior of the device while you’re swapping the guard (and this would obviously impede the function of your hearing aids).
  • You’ve replaced your wax guard with 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 could lead to the hearing aid sounding “weak.”

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

After I Switch Out my Earwax Guard

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

Similar to any complex device, hearing aids do call for some regular upkeep, and there’s definitely a learning curve involved. So don’t forget: if your hearing aid is sounding weak and your batteries have a full charge, it may be time to replace your earwax guard.

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