You just changed the batteries, but your hearing aids still don’t sound right. Everything sounds muffled, distant, and not right. It’s like you can’t hear the full sound you’re supposed to be experiencing. When you try to diagnose the problem with a basic Google search, the most probable solution seems to be a low battery. And that’s irritating because you’re quite careful about setting your hearing aid on the charging station before you go to sleep each night.
Nevertheless, here you are, fighting to listen as your group of friends carry on a discussion around you. You bought hearing aids to avoid this exact circumstance. Before you get too angry with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this weak sound you may want to check out: your own earwax.
A Home 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 design. Other versions are designed to be placed inside the ear canal for best performance. Wherever your hearing aid is positioned, it will encounter an ever-present neighbor: earwax.
A Guard Against Earwax
Now, earwax does a lot of great things for the health of your ears ((many infection can actually be avoided because of the antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities of earwax, according to various studies). So earwax is not a negative thing.
But hearing aids and earwax don’t always work together quite as well–earwax moisture, in particular, can impact the normal function of hearing aids. Fortunately, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well aware of it.
So a protective 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 may be what’s creating the “weak” sound.
Things to Know About Wax Guards
A wax guard is a little piece of technology that is incorporated into your hearing aid. Wax can’t go through but sound can. In order for your hearing aid to keep working efficiently, a wax guard is essential. But problems can be caused by the wax guard itself in certain cases:
- It’s been too long since the wax guard has been replaced: Wax guards wear out like any other filter. There’s only so much cleaning that can be done to a wax guard! When cleaning no longer does the trick, you may have to change your wax guard (you can purchase a special toolkit to make this process easier).
- You have a dirty hearing aid shell: And let’s not forget your hearing aid shell, which also has to be cleaned when you switch out your wax guard. If your hearing aid shell is covered with earwax, it’s possible, while you’re changing the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the interior of the hearing aid (and this would clearly hamper the efficiency of your hearing aids).
- It’s been too long since the wax guard was cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard should be a monthly (or so) maintenance task. Much like any filter, a wax guard can eventually 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 on occasion, you will want to clean it.
- A professional clean and check is needed: In order to be certain 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 get your hearing tested regularly.
- You’ve replaced your wax guard with the wrong model: Every model and maker has a different wax guard. Sound that is “weak” can be the result if you buy the wrong wax guard for your model.
Make sure you use the included instruction for best success with your wax guard.
After I Change my Earwax Guard
Once you’ve changed over your earwax guard, your hearing aids should start providing clearer sounds. You’ll be able to hear (and follow along with) conversations again. And that can be a real relief if you’ve been discouraged with your (fully charged) hearing aid.
There’s certainly a learning curve with regards to maintaining any specialized device such as hearing aids. So don’t forget: if your hearing aid is sounding weak and your batteries have a full charge, it could be time to replace your earwax guard.