Your hearing aids aren’t sounding the way they should even though you recently changed the batteries. Things just sound off, like they’re a little bit dull and far away. It seems like some of the sound isn’t there. When you try to diagnose the problem with a simple Google search, the most probable answer seems to be a low battery. And that’s frustrating because you’re really diligent about placing your hearing aid on the charging station before you go to bed every night.
Even so, here you are, struggling to listen as your bunch of friends have a discussion around you. You got hearing aids to avoid this exact circumstance. You may want to check one more possibility before you get too aggravated about your hearing aids: earwax.
You’re Hearing Aids Reside in Your Ears
Your ears are where your hearing aids live under typical circumstances. Even when you wear an over-the-ear design, there’s at least contact with your ear canal. Other versions are designed to be positioned in the ear canal for optimal efficiency. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor no matter where your hearing aid is situated.
Now, earwax does lots of great things for the health of your ears (numerous studies have demonstrated that earwax ,in fact, has anti-fungal and antibacterial attributes that can help ward off many infections). So earwax isn’t a bad thing.
But hearing aids and earwax don’t always get along quite as well–the normal operation of your hearing aid can be hampered by earwax, particularly the moisture. The good news is, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well aware of it.
So modern hearing aids have safeguards, known as wax guards, created to keep earwax from impacting the general function of your device. And those wax guards may be what’s causing the “weak” sound.
Wax Guard Etiquette
A wax guard is a tiny piece of technology that is incorporated into your hearing aid. The concept is that the wax guard enables sound to get through, but not wax. So that your hearing aid can keep working efficiently, a wax guard is essential. But troubles can be created by the wax guard itself in some situations:
- When you got your new wax guards, you got the wrong model: Each model and maker has a different wax guard. Sound that is “weak” can be the result if you purchase the wrong wax guard for your model.
- You have a dirty hearing aid shell: When you’re switching your earwax guard, it’s important that your hearing aid shell be properly cleaned as well. If earwax is clogging your hearing aid, it’s feasible, while you’re swapping out the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the interior of the hearing aid (and this would obviously hamper the efficiency of your hearing aids).
- It’s been too long since the wax guard was cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard needs to be a monthly (or so) maintenance routine. A wax guard filters out the wax but it can become clogged and as with any kind of filter, it has to get cleaned. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is clogging up the wax guard and every once in a while, you will need to clean it.
- It’s time for a professional clean and check: In order to be certain that your hearing aid is working correctly, it needs to be cleaned once every year. You should also consider having your hearing evaluated regularly to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
- It’s been too long since the wax guard has been changed: Wax guards need replacing 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 change your wax guard (you can purchase a specialized toolkit to make this process easier).
If you buy a new hearing aid guard, it will probably come with instructions, so it’s a good idea to follow those instructions to the best of your ability.
After I Change my Earwax Guard
Once you’ve changed your earwax guard, your hearing aids should start providing clearer sounds. Hearing and following conversation should be much better. And if you’ve been coping with poor sound quality from your hearing aids, this can be a real relief.
Just like any specialized device, hearing aids do call for some routine maintenance, and there is undoubtedly a learning curve involved. So don’t forget: if your hearing aid is sounding weak and your batteries are fully charged, it could be time to change your earwax guard.