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Hearing Aids by Tricia Leagjeld - Redmond, OR

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

You just swapped out the batteries, but your hearing aids still don’t sound right. Everything seems distant, dull, and just a little off. It’s like some of the sound is lacking. When you troubleshoot the issue with a basic Google search, the most probable answer seems like a low battery. And that’s aggravating because you’re really careful about setting your hearing aid on the charging station before you go to bed each night.

But here you are with a group of friends and you can’t quite hear their conversation. You bought hearing aids to avoid this exact circumstance. Before you get too aggravated with your hearing aids, there’s one more cause for this weak sound you may want to check out: your own earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Reside in Your Ears

Your ears are the place where your hearing aids reside under normal circumstances. Even when you wear an over-the-ear design, there’s at least contact with your ear canal. Other models are manufactured to be positioned inside the ear canal for best efficiency. Regardless of where your hearing aid is situated, it will be close to an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

A Guard Against Earwax

Now, earwax does some great things for the health of your ears ((many 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 positive thing.

But earwax and hearing aids don’t always work together quite as well–earwax moisture, particularly, can hinder the normal operation of hearing aids. The good news is, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well aware of it.

So modern hearing aids have shields, called wax guards, designed to prevent earwax from interfering with the normal function of your device. And those wax guards may be what’s creating the “weak” sound.

Wax Guard Etiquette

A wax guard is a little piece of technology that is integrated into your hearing aid. Wax can’t go through but sound can. Wax guards are indispensable for your hearing aid to keep working correctly. But issues can be caused by the wax guard itself in certain situations:

  • You need a professional check and clean: In order to be sure that your hearing aid is working correctly, it should be cleaned once every year. You should also think about getting your hearing tested 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: Like any other filter, eventually, the wax guard will no longer be able to properly perform its job. A wax guard can only be cleaned so much. You might have to get a new wax guard when cleaning no longer works (so that you can make this smoother, you can buy a toolkit made specifically for this).
  • You’ve replaced your wax guard with the incorrect model: Each model and maker has a different wax guard. If you buy the wrong model for your specific hearing aid, your device’s functions might be diminished, and that may result in the hearing aid sounding “weak.”
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard should be a monthly (or so) upkeep routine. As with any filter, a wax guard can ultimately become clogged with the very thing it’s been tasked with eliminating. 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: And let’s remember your hearing aid shell, which also needs to be cleaned when you change your wax guard. If earwax is covering your device, it’s feasible, while you’re swapping out the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the interior of the hearing aid (and, obviously, this would hamper the function of the hearing aid).

Make sure you follow the included instruction for best results with your new wax guard.

I Replaced my Wax Guard, What’s Next?

You should observe much improved sound quality after you change your wax guard. You’ll be able to hear (and follow) conversations again. And if you’ve been dealing with weak sound quality from your hearing aids, this can be quite a relief.

Similar to any complex device, hearing aids do require some routine maintenance, and there is definitely a learning curve involved. So just remember: if your hearing aid is sounding weak and your batteries are fully charged, it might be time to replace your earwax guard.

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