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

Your hearing aids aren’t sounding the way they should even though you recently changed the batteries. Things just don’t sound right, like they’re a little dull and distant. It’s like some of the sound isn’t there. When you do some basic research, a battery issue appears to be the probable reason. Which annoys you because you keep the batteries charged each night.

Nevertheless, here you are, fighting to hear your group of friends have a discussion near you. This is precisely the situation you bought hearing aids to avoid. Before you get too angry with your hearing aids, there’s one more cause for this weak sound you may want to check: your own earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Live 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 models are designed to be placed in the ear canal for optimal performance. No matter where your hearing aid is positioned, it will be close to an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

Earwax Guards

Now, earwax does lots of great things for the health of your ears ((various infection can actually be avoided because of the antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities of earwax, according to many studies). So earwax is not a bad thing.

But earwax and hearing aids don’t always get along quite as well–the standard functionality of your hearing aid can be hindered by earwax, peculiarly the moisture. Fortunately, this isn’t exactly a surprise to hearing aid makers and earwax doesn’t usually move in unpredictable ways.

So a safety component, known as wax guards, have been put in place so that the effective function of your device isn’t hampered by earwax. And those wax guards could be what’s causing the “weak” sound.

Things to Know About Wax Guards

A wax guard is a small 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 properly. But there are some instances where the wax guard itself might cause some troubles:

  • A professional clean and check is needed: In order to be sure that your hearing aid is functioning properly, it needs to be cleaned once every year. And in order to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you should also have your hearing tested regularly.
  • You’ve replaced your wax guard with the wrong model: Every model and maker has a different wax guard. If you get the wrong model for your specific hearing aid, your device’s functions could be impaired, and that could lead to the hearing aid sounding “weak.”
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard needs to be a monthly (or so) upkeep task. A wax guard blocks the wax but sometimes it gets clogged and just like any kind of filter, it has to be cleaned. Every now and then, you’ll have to clean the guard or the wax caught up in it will begin to block sound waves and mess up your hearing.
  • You have an unclean hearing aid shell: When you’re switching your earwax guard, it’s essential that your hearing aid shell be properly cleaned as well. If earwax is covering your hearing aid, it’s possible some of that wax may find its way into the inside of the device while you’re swapping the guard (and, obviously, this would hamper the function of the hearing aid).
  • You haven’t replaced your wax guard for a while: As with any other filter, eventually, the wax guard will no longer be able to effectively perform its task. A wax guard can only be cleaned so many times. You might need to get a new wax guard if cleaning no longer works (in order to make this easier, you can buy a toolkit made specifically for this).

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

After I Change my Earwax Guard

You should notice substantially improved sound quality after you switch your wax guard. Hearing and following discussions should become much better. And that can be a real relief if you’ve been discouraged with your (fully charged) hearing aid.

Much like any specialized device, hearing aids do require some routine upkeep, and there is definitely a learning curve involved. So just keep in mind: if your hearing aid is sounding weak and your batteries are fully charged, it could be time to change your earwax guard.

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