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

You just exchanged the batteries, but your hearing aids still don’t sound the way they should. Things just sound off, like they’re a little dull and far away. It’s like you can’t hear the full sound you’re supposed to be getting. When you research the situation, a low battery appears to be the probable reason. Which annoys you because you keep the batteries charged every night.

Nevertheless, here you are, struggling to hear your group of friends have a discussion near you. You got hearing aids to avoid this exact circumstance. Before you get too aggravated 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 reside under typical circumstances. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear design. And for best efficiency, other versions have been created to be positioned directly in the ear canal. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor no matter where your hearing aid is situated.

Earwax Guards

Now, earwax does some great things for the health of your ears (numerous studies have revealed that earwax actually has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that can help prevent numerous infections). So earwax is not a bad thing.

But the interaction between earwax and hearing aids is not always helpful–the standard functionality of your hearing aid can be impeded by earwax, especially the moisture. The good news is, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well aware of it.

So modern hearing aids have safeguards, referred to as wax guards, created to keep earwax from interfering with the general function of your device. And those wax guards might 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. Wax can’t get through but sound can. Wax guards are a must for your hearing aid to continue working correctly. But troubles can be caused by the wax guard itself in certain situations:

  • You’ve replaced your wax guard with the incorrect model: Most hearing aid makers have their own unique wax guard design. If you buy 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.”
  • It’s time for a professional check and clean: In order to be sure that your hearing aid is functioning correctly, it should be cleaned once per year. And in order to be certain that your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you should also get your hearing tested routinely.
  • You haven’t replaced your wax guard for some time: Wax guards wear out like any other filter. 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 (in order to make this smoother, you can purchase a toolkit made specially for this).
  • Cleaning your earwax guard should be done once a month: it’s been too long since you’ve cleaned them. As with any filter, a wax guard can eventually become clogged with the very thing it’s been tasked with eliminating. Every now and then, you’ll have to clean the guard or the wax stuck in it will begin to block sound waves and damage your hearing.
  • You have an unclean hearing aid shell: And let’s not forget your hearing aid shell, which also needs to be cleaned when you switch out your wax guard. If your hearing aid shell is covered with earwax, it’s feasible some of that wax may find its way into the interior of the device while you’re changing the guard (and, obviously, this would hamper the function of the hearing aid).

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

I Replaced my Wax Guard, What’s Next?

You should hear substantially improved sound quality after you switch your wax guard. Hearing and following conversation should get much better. And that can be a big relief if you’ve been disappointed 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 don’t forget: if your hearing aid is sounding weak and your batteries are fully charged, it might be time to change your earwax guard.