Your hearing aids aren’t sounding the way they should even though you just changed the batteries. Things just sound off, like they’re a little bit muffled and distant. It seems like some of the sound is missing. When you do some basic research, a battery issue seems to be the most likely cause. And that’s irritating because you’re very careful about putting your hearing aid on the charging station before you go to bed each night.
But here you are with some friends and you can’t really hear their conversation. This is precisely the situation you got hearing aids to prevent. You might want to check one more possibility before you become too aggravated about your hearing aids: earwax.
A Residence in Your Ears
Your hearing aids reside in your ear, in most cases. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear model. Other models are manufactured to be positioned in the ear canal for optimal performance. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor regardless of where your hearing aid is situated.
A Shield Against Earwax
Now, earwax does lots of great things for the health of your ears (numerous studies have demonstrated that earwax ,in fact, has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that can help prevent various infections). So earwax isn’t a bad thing.
But earwax and hearing aids don’t always get along quite as well–the standard operation of your hearing aid can be hindered by earwax, particularly the moisture. Fortunately, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well mindful of it.
So modern hearing aids have shields, called wax guards, designed to prevent earwax from impacting the general performance of your device. And those wax guards might be what’s causing the “weak” sound.
Wax Guard Etiquette
A wax guard is a small piece of technology that is incorporated into your hearing aid. The idea is that the wax guard enables sound to pass through, but not wax. Wax guards are crucial for your hearing aid to continue working properly. But there are some circumstances where the wax guard itself could cause some issues:
- A professional clean and check is required: At least once per year you need to have your hearing aid professionally cleaned and checked to be certain it’s working properly. You should also consider having your hearing examined on a regular basis to be certain your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
- 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! You might need to get a new wax guard if cleaning doesn’t (you can get a specialized toolkit to make this process smoother).
- You have a dirty hearing aid shell: And let’s not forget your hearing aid shell, which also needs to be cleaned when you change your wax guard. If earwax is clogging your hearing aid, it’s possible, while you’re swapping out the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the inside of the hearing aid (and this would obviously hinder the function of your hearing aids).
- Cleaning your earwax guard needs to be done once each month: it’s been too long since you last cleaned them. A wax guard blocks the wax but sometimes it gets clogged and as with any kind of filter, it needs to be cleaned. Every every so often, you’ll have to clean the guard or the wax caught up in it will begin to block sound waves and damage your hearing.
- When you got your new wax guards, you got the wrong model: Most hearing aid makers have their own unique wax guard design. If you buy the wrong model for your specific hearing aid, your device’s functions might be impaired, and that could lead to the hearing aid sounding “weak.”
Be sure you follow the included instruction for best results with your wax guard.
I Replaced my Wax Guard, What’s Next?
You should observe much better sound quality after you change your wax guard. You’ll be able to hear (and follow) conversations again. And that’s a big relief if you’ve been frustrated with your (fully charged) hearing aid.
There’s certainly a learning curve with regards to maintaining any specialized device such as hearing aids. So just remember: if your hearing aid is sounding weak and your batteries have a full charge, it may be time to change your earwax guard.