Hearing Services of Nashville

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

Your hearing aids aren’t sounding right even though you just changed the batteries. Everything seems distant, dull, 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 issue with a basic Google search, the most plausible solution seems to be a low battery. Which frustrates you because you charge the batteries every night.

And yet, here you are, struggling to hear your group of friends have a conversation near you. You got hearing aids to avoid this exact circumstance. Before you get too mad with your hearing aids, there’s one more cause for this diminished sound you may want to check: your own earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Reside in Your Ears

Your ears are the place where your hearing aids reside under typical circumstances. Even when you wear an over-the-ear design, there’s at least contact with your ear canal. And for ideal performance, other versions have been designed to be positioned directly in the ear canal. No matter where your hearing aid is situated, it will be close to an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

A Shield Against Earwax

Now, earwax does some important things for the health of your ears ((numerous infection can actually be avoided because of the antibacterial and anti-fungal properties of earwax, according to various studies). So earwax is not a bad thing.

But earwax and hearing aids don’t always get along quite as well–the moisture in earwax, especially, can interfere with the normal operation of hearing aids. Fortunately, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well mindful of it.

So modern hearing aids have safeguards, known as wax guards, created to prevent earwax from impacting the normal function of your device. And the “weak” sound may be caused by these wax guards.

Wax Guard Etiquette

There is a little piece of technology inside your hearing aid called a wax guard. The concept is that the wax guard allows sound to pass through, but not wax. Wax guards are important for your hearing aid to continue working correctly. But issues can be caused by the wax guard itself in some cases:

  • A professional check and clean is needed: At least once a year you need to get your hearing aid professionally cleaned and checked to be certain it’s functioning properly. You should also think about getting your hearing examined on a regular basis to be certain your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
  • You have replaced your wax guard with the incorrect model: Each 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.
  • You haven’t replaced your wax guard for some time: Wax guards need replacing like any other filter. A wax guard can only be cleaned so many times. When cleaning no longer does the trick, you might have to change your wax guard (you can get a specialized toolkit to make this process smoother).
  • Your hearing aid shell needs to be cleaned: When you’re switching your earwax guard, it’s important that your hearing aid shell be correctly cleaned as well. If your device shell is covered with earwax, it’s possible, while you’re swapping out the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the interior of the hearing aid (and, naturally, 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 last cleaned them. Much like any filter, a wax guard can ultimately become clogged with the very thing it’s been tasked with eliminating. Every every so often, you’ll have to clean the guard or the wax stuck in it will start to block sound waves and damage your hearing.

If you buy 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.

After I Switch Out my Earwax Guard

You should observe substantially better sound quality after you change your wax guard. Hearing and following conversation should get much better. And if you’ve been dealing with inferior sound quality from your hearing aids, this can be a real relief.

Much like any complex device, hearing aids do call for some routine upkeep, and there’s certainly a learning curve involved. So don’t forget: if your hearing aid is sounding weak and your batteries are fully charged, it may be time to change your earwax guard.

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