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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 right. Things just sound off, like they’re a little bit muffled and distant. It seems like some of the sound is lacking. When you research the situation, a low battery seems to be the most likely cause. Which frustrates you because you keep the batteries charged every night.

And yet, here you are, struggling to listen as your group of friends have a conversation around you. This is exactly the situation you bought hearing aids to avoid. Before you get too angry with your hearing aids, there’s one more cause for this diminished sound you might want to check out: your own earwax.

A Residence in Your Ears

Your ears are the place where your hearing aids reside under typical circumstances. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear design. And for optimal efficiency, other designs have been created to be placed directly in the ear canal. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor regardless of where your hearing aid is situated.

Earwax Guards

Now, earwax does some important things for the health of your ears (numerous studies have shown that earwax actually has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that can help stave off numerous infections). So earwax is not a negative thing.

But the interaction between hearing aids and earwax isn’t always so good–the moisture in earwax, particularly, can impact the normal function of hearing aids. Luckily, this isn’t exactly a surprise to hearing aid makers and earwax doesn’t usually move in unpredictable ways.

So modern hearing aids have shields, called wax guards, designed to stop earwax from interfering with the normal function of your device. And the “weak” sound may be brought about by these wax guards.

Wax Guard Etiquette

There is a little piece of technology inside your hearing aid known as a wax guard. Wax can’t get through but sound can. So that your hearing aid can keep working properly, a wax guard is essential. But there are some circumstances where the wax guard itself might cause some issues:

  • You haven’t changed your wax guard for some time: Wax guards wear out like any other filter. There’s only so much cleaning that can be done to a wax guard! You may have to get a new wax guard when cleaning doesn’t (in order to make this easier, you can purchase a toolkit made specially for this).
  • When you purchased your new wax guards, you got the wrong one: Most hearing aid manufacturers have their own special wax guard design. Sound that is “weak” can be the outcome if you get the wrong wax guard for your model.
  • You have a dirty hearing aid shell: And let’s remember your hearing aid shell, which also needs to be cleaned when you switch out your wax guard. If earwax is clogging your hearing aid, it’s possible, while you’re changing the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the inside of the hearing aid (and, obviously, this would hamper the function of the hearing aid).
  • Cleaning your earwax guard needs to be done once every month: it’s been too long since you’ve cleaned them. 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.
  • It’s time for a professional check and clean: In order to be sure that your hearing aid is functioning correctly, it needs to be cleaned once every year. You should also consider having your hearing evaluated on a regular basis to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all.

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

I Changed my Wax Guard, What’s Next?

Once you’ve changed over your earwax guard, your hearing aids should begin providing clearer sounds. Hearing and following discussions should become much better. And if you’ve been coping with inferior sound quality from your hearing aids, this can be quite a relief.

There’s certainly a learning curve with regards to maintaining any complex device like hearing aids. So just keep in mind: It’s probably time to replace your wax guard if the sound quality of your hearing aid is poor even when the battery is fully charged.

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