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

Your hearing aids don’t sound the way they should despite the fact that you just changed the batteries. Things just sound off, like they’re a little bit muffled and far away. It’s like you can’t hear the full sound you’re supposed to be getting. When you do some basic research, a battery issue seems to be the most likely cause. And that’s irritating because you’re really careful about placing your hearing aid on the charging platform before you go to bed each night.

Even so, here you are, fighting to hear your bunch of friends carry on a discussion around you. This is precisely the scenario you bought hearing aids to avoid. Before you get too mad with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this weak sound you may want to check: your own earwax.

A Residence in Your Ears

Your hearing aids reside in your ear, normally. Even when you use an over-the-ear model, there’s at least contact with your ear canal. Other versions are manufactured to be positioned inside the ear canal for ideal performance. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor no matter where your hearing aid is situated.

A Guard Against Earwax

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

But the interaction between earwax and hearing aids is not always helpful–the moisture in earwax, in particular, can impact the normal function of hearing aids. The good news is, this isn’t really a surprise to hearing aid manufacturers and earwax doesn’t often move in unpredictable ways.

So a safety component, called wax guards, have been integrated so that the effective function of your device isn’t hampered by earwax. And those wax guards might be what’s causing the “weak” sound.

Things to Know About Wax Guards

A wax guard is a tiny piece of technology that is integrated into your hearing aid. Wax can’t pass through but sound can. In order for your hearing aid to continue to work properly, a wax guard is essential. But there are some situations where the wax guard itself might cause some troubles:

  • Your hearing aid shell is dirty: When you’re switching your earwax guard, it’s essential that your hearing aid shell be properly cleaned also. If earwax is clogging your device, it’s feasible some of that wax may find its way into the interior of the device while you’re changing the guard (and, naturally, this would hamper the function of the hearing aid).
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been replaced: Wax guards need replacing 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 (you can get a special toolkit to make this process smoother).
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard was cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard should be a monthly (or so) maintenance routine. As with any filter, a wax guard can ultimately become clogged with the exact thing it’s been tasked with eliminating. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is plugging up the wax guard and every now and then, you will need to clean it.
  • A professional clean and check is needed: In order to be certain that your hearing aid is working correctly, it should be cleaned once every year. You should also consider getting your hearing tested on a regular basis to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
  • When you got your new wax guards, you got the wrong model: Most hearing aid manufacturers have their own specialized wax guard design. Sound that is “weak” can be the outcome if you get the wrong wax guard for your model.

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

After I Switch Out my Earwax Guard

Once you’ve changed your earwax guard, your hearing aids should begin providing clearer sounds. Hearing and following conversation should be much easier. And that’s a big relief if you’ve been frustrated with your (fully charged) hearing aid.

Much like any specialized device, hearing aids do call for some routine upkeep, and there is certainly a learning curve involved. So don’t forget: if your hearing aid sounds weak and your batteries are fully charged, it might be time to change your earwax guard.

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