Your hearing aids aren’t sounding the way they should even though you recently changed the batteries. Everything sounds muffled, distant, and not right. It seems like some of the sound is missing. When you try to diagnose the problem with a simple Google search, the most probable answer seems like a low battery. Which annoys you because you charge the batteries each night.
Even so, here you are, struggling to listen as your group of friends have a discussion around you. This is precisely the situation you bought hearing aids to prevent. 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.
A Home in Your Ears
Your hearing aids live in your ear, usually. Even when you use an over-the-ear model, there’s at least contact with your ear canal. And for best performance, other models have been created to be positioned directly in the ear canal. No matter where your hearing aid is positioned, it will encounter an ever-present neighbor: 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 properties of earwax, according to many studies). So earwax isn’t a negative thing.
But earwax and hearing aids don’t always get along quite as well–earwax moisture, particularly, can hinder the normal function of hearing aids. The good news is, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well aware of it.
So modern hearing aids have safeguards, called wax guards, created to prevent earwax from interfering with the normal performance of your device. And those wax guards may be what’s creating the “weak” sound.
Wax Guard Etiquette
There is a small piece of technology in your hearing aid known as a wax guard. The idea is that the wax guard enables sound to go through, but not wax. In order for your hearing aid to keep working efficiently, a wax guard is indispensable. But there are some instances where the wax guard itself might cause some problems:
- 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 it can become clogged and like any type of filter, it has to get cleaned. Every once in a while, you’ll have to clean the guard or the wax stuck in it will start to block sound waves and damage your hearing.
- You have an unclean hearing aid shell: When you’re switching your earwax guard, it’s important that your hearing aid shell be properly cleaned also. 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 hamper the function of the hearing aid).
- It’s been too long since the wax guard has been changed: Just like any other filter, sooner or later the wax guard will no longer be able to properly perform its job. 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 replace your wax guard (you can purchase a special toolkit to make this process easier).
- You’ve replaced your wax guard with the incorrect model: Most hearing aid providers have their own special wax guard design. If you purchase the wrong model for your specific hearing aid, your device’s functions could be impaired, and that could result in the hearing aid sounding “weak.”
- You need a professional clean and check: At least once per year you need to have your hearing aid professionally checked and cleaned to make certain it’s functioning properly. You should also consider having your hearing checked on a regular basis to be certain your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
If you purchase a new hearing aid guard, it will likely come with instructions, so it’s a good idea to follow those instructions to the best of your ability.
I Changed my Wax Guard, What’s Next?
Once you’ve changed over your earwax guard, your hearing aids should start producing clearer sounds. You’ll be able to hear (and follow along with) conversations again. And if you’ve been dealing with poor sound quality from your hearing aids, this can be a real relief.
Much like any specialized device, hearing aids do call for some regular maintenance, and there’s certainly a learning curve involved. So just remember: if your hearing aid sounds weak and your batteries are fully charged, it could be time to change your earwax guard.