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

Your hearing aids aren’t sounding the way they should even though you recently changed the batteries. Everything sounds distant, muffled, and just a little off. It’s like some of the sound is lacking. When you do some basic research, a battery issue seems to be the probable reason. And that’s frustrating because you’re very diligent about setting your hearing aid on the charging platform before you go to sleep each night.

Nevertheless, here you are, struggling to listen as your group of friends carry on a discussion around you. This is precisely the scenario you bought hearing aids to prevent. Before you get too upset 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 ears are the place where your hearing aids reside under typical circumstances. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear design. Other models are manufactured to be placed in the ear canal for optimal results. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor no matter where your hearing aid is positioned.

A Shield Against Earwax

Now, earwax does a lot of great things for the health of your ears ((many infection can actually be prevented because of the antibacterial and anti-fungal properties of earwax, according to many studies). So earwax is not a negative thing.

But earwax and hearing aids don’t always get along quite as well–earwax moisture, particularly, can impact the normal function of hearing aids. The good news is, 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 effective function of your device isn’t hampered by earwax. And the “weak” sound may be caused by these wax guards.

Wax Guard Etiquette

There is a little piece of technology in your hearing aid called a wax guard. Wax can’t get through but sound can. So that your hearing aid can continue to work properly, a wax guard is crucial. But troubles can be caused by the wax guard itself in some situations:

  • You haven’t changed your wax guard for a while: Wax guards need replacing like any other filter. A wax guard can only be cleaned so much. When cleaning no longer does the trick, you might have to change your wax guard (in order to make this smoother, you can get a toolkit made specially for this).
  • When you purchased your new wax guards, you got the wrong one: Most hearing aid makers have their own unique wax guard design. Sound that is “weak” can be the result if you get the wrong wax guard for your model.
  • Your hearing aid shell needs to be cleaned: And let’s not forget your hearing aid shell, which also needs to be cleaned when you change your wax guard. If earwax is covering your device, it’s possible some of that wax could find its way into the interior of the device while you’re swapping the guard (and this would clearly hamper the efficiency of your hearing aids).
  • 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 eventually become clogged with the exact 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 begin to block sound waves and mess up your hearing.
  • A professional clean and check is required: In order to be sure that your hearing aid is functioning properly, it needs to be cleaned once a year. You should also consider getting your hearing examined regularly to be certain your hearing hasn’t changed at all.

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

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 that can be a real relief if you’ve been discouraged with your (fully charged) hearing aid.

There’s undoubtedly a learning curve when it comes to maintaining any specialized device such as hearing aids. So just keep in mind: if your hearing aid sounds weak and your batteries have a full charge, it might be time to replace your earwax guard.