You just exchanged the batteries, but your hearing aids still don’t sound right. Everything sounds muffled, distant, and not right. It’s like you aren’t hearing the full sound you’re supposed to be receiving. When you troubleshoot the issue with a simple Google search, the most likely answer seems to be a low battery. Which frustrates you because you charge the batteries every night.
But here you are with some friends and you can’t really hear their discussion. You got hearing aids to avoid this exact situation. Before you get too upset with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this diminished sound you might want to check: your own earwax.
You’re Hearing Aids Live in Your Ears
Your hearing aids live in your ear, usually. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear design. And for best efficiency, other models have been designed to be placed directly in the ear canal. No matter where your hearing aid is positioned, it will encounter an ever-present neighbor: earwax.
A Guard Against Earwax
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 properties of earwax, according to various studies). So earwax can actually be a good thing.
But hearing aids and earwax don’t always get along quite as well–the standard operation of your hearing aid can be hampered by earwax, peculiarly the moisture. Luckily, this isn’t really a surprise to hearing aid makers and earwax doesn’t often move in unpredictable ways.
So a safety component, called wax guards, have been put in place so that the normal function of your device isn’t impeded by earwax. And those wax guards may be what’s creating the “weak” sound.
Wax Guard Etiquette
A wax guard is a tiny piece of technology that is bundled into your hearing aid. Wax can’t go through but sound can. So that your hearing aid can continue to work properly, a wax guard is essential. But there are some circumstances where the wax guard itself could cause some issues:
- You have an unclean hearing aid shell: And let’s not forget your hearing aid shell, which also has to be cleaned when you change your wax guard. If your hearing aid shell is covered with earwax, it’s feasible some of that wax could make its way into the inside of the device while you’re changing the guard (and, naturally, this would impede the function of the hearing aid).
- It’s been too long since the wax guard has been changed: Wax guards need replacing like any other filter. There’s only so much cleaning you can do to a wax guard! You may have to get a new wax guard when cleaning no longer works (you can get a special toolkit to make this process smoother).
- You have replaced your wax guard with the incorrect model: Every model and maker has a different wax guard. Sound that is “weak” can be the outcome if you purchase the wrong wax guard for your model.
- It’s been too long since the wax guard was cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard should be a monthly (or so) maintenance task. A wax guard blocks the wax but it can become clogged and just like any kind of filter, it needs to get cleaned. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is clogging up the wax guard and once in a while, you will have to clean it.
- A professional check and clean is needed: In order to be sure that your hearing aid is functioning correctly, it should be cleaned once a year. And in order to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you also need to get your hearing tested regularly.
If you purchase a new hearing aid guard, it will likely come with instructions, so it’s a good plan to follow those instructions to the best of your ability.
I Replaced my Wax Guard, What’s Next?
Once you’ve changed your earwax guard, your hearing aids should start providing clearer sounds. Hearing and following conversation should get much better. And if you’ve been coping with poor sound from your hearing aids, this can be quite a relief.
There’s definitely a learning curve in regards to maintaining any specialized device such as hearing aids. So don’t forget: if your hearing aid sounds weak and your batteries are fully charged, it may be time to replace your earwax guard.