Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

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

You just exchanged the batteries, but your hearing aids just don’t sound right. Things just don’t sound right, like they’re a little bit dull and far away. It’s like some of the sound isn’t there. When you do some basic research, a battery issue seems to be the most likely reason. Which annoys you because you keep the batteries charged each night.

Nevertheless, here you are, struggling to listen as your bunch of friends have a conversation near you. This is exactly the scenario you bought hearing aids to prevent. Before you get too upset with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this weak sound you may want to check: your own earwax.

A Residence in Your Ears

Your hearing aids reside in your ear, in most cases. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear model. Other models are manufactured to be placed in the ear canal for optimal results. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor regardless of where your hearing aid is situated.

Earwax Guards

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 qualities of earwax, according to many studies). So earwax is not a bad thing.

But the relationship between hearing aids and earwax isn’t always helpful–the moisture in earwax, particularly, can hinder the normal operation of hearing aids. Fortunately, this isn’t really a surprise to hearing aid makers and earwax doesn’t usually move in unpredictable ways.

So modern hearing aids have shields, called wax guards, created to prevent earwax from impacting the general performance of your device. And those wax guards may be what’s creating the “weak” sound.

Wax Guard Etiquette

There is a little piece of technology inside your hearing aid known as a wax guard. Wax can’t pass through but sound can. Wax guards are essential for your hearing aid to continue working correctly. But troubles can be caused by the wax guard itself in some cases:

  • You haven’t replaced your wax guard for some time: Wax guards wear out like any other filter. 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 (in order to make this easier, you can purchase a toolkit made specifically for this).
  • 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. And in order to be certain that your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you should also have your hearing tested on a regular basis.
  • Your hearing aid shell needs to be cleaned: When you’re changing your earwax guard, it’s important that your hearing aid shell be properly cleaned as well. If earwax is covering your device, it’s feasible some of that wax could make its way into the inside of the device while you’re swapping the guard (and this would clearly impede the function of your hearing aids).
  • Cleaning your earwax guard should be done once each month: it’s been too long since you last cleaned them. Much like any filter, a wax guard can ultimately become clogged with the exact thing it’s been tasked with filtering out. 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.
  • When you bought your new wax guards, you got the wrong one: Most hearing aid manufacturers have their own unique wax guard design. If you get the wrong model for your specific hearing aid, your device’s functions could be impaired, and that may result in the hearing aid sounding “weak.”

If you buy a new hearing aid guard, it will most likely come with instructions, so it’s a good idea to follow those instructions the best you can.

After I Switch Out my Earwax Guard

You should hear substantially improved sound quality once you switch your wax guard. Hearing and following conversation should be much easier. And if you’ve been coping with inferior sound from your hearing aids, this can be a real relief.

There’s certainly a learning curve in regards to maintaining any complex device such as hearing aids. So just remember: It’s most likely time to replace your wax guard if the sound quality of your hearing aid is weak even when the battery is fully charged.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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