Audiology & Hearing Care of SWFL - Bonita Springs, FL

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

Your hearing aids don’t sound right even though you just changed the batteries. Things just don’t sound right, like they’re a little bit muffled and far away. It’s like you aren’t hearing the full sound you’re supposed to be getting. When you do some basic research, a battery issue appears to be the most likely reason. Which annoys you because you charge the batteries every night.

But here you are with some friends and you can’t really hear their conversation. You bought hearing aids to avoid this exact situation. You might want to check out one more possibility before you get too angry about your hearing aids: earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Reside in Your Ears

Your hearing aids live in your ear, normally. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear model. Other models are manufactured to be positioned in the ear canal for ideal efficiency. Wherever your hearing aid is positioned, it will be close to an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

A Guard Against Earwax

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

But hearing aids and earwax don’t always get along quite as well–the normal functionality of your hearing aid can be hampered by earwax, particularly the moisture. Luckily, this isn’t exactly a surprise to hearing aid manufacturers and earwax doesn’t often move in unpredictable ways.

So a safety component, known as wax guards, have been integrated so that the effective function of your device isn’t hampered by earwax. And the “weak” sound may be caused by these wax guards.

Things to Know About Wax Guards

A wax guard is a little piece of technology that is integrated into your hearing aid. Wax can’t go through but sound can. So that your hearing aid can continue to work properly, a wax guard is essential. But there are some situations where the wax guard itself might cause some problems:

  • You need a professional check and clean: In order to be certain that your hearing aid is working correctly, it needs to be cleaned once a year. You should also consider having your hearing checked on a regular basis to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
  • You have an unclean hearing aid shell: And let’s not forget your hearing aid shell, which also needs to be cleaned when you change your wax guard. If your hearing aid shell is plugged with earwax, it’s feasible, while you’re changing the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the inside of the hearing aid (and, obviously, this would hamper the function of the hearing aid).
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been replaced: Like any other filter, eventually, the wax guard will no longer be able to adequately perform its task. There’s only so much cleaning that can be done to a wax guard! You may have to get a new wax guard if cleaning no longer works (you can purchase a specialized toolkit to make this process smoother).
  • Cleaning your earwax guard should be done once each month: it’s been too long since you last cleaned them. As with any filter, a wax guard can ultimately become clogged with the very thing it’s been tasked with eliminating. Every now and then, you’ll need to clean the guard or the wax stuck in it will begin to block sound waves and mess up your hearing.
  • When you bought your new wax guards, you got the wrong one: Most hearing aid providers have their own unique wax guard design. Sound that is “weak” can be the outcome if you get the wrong wax guard for your model.

If you buy a new hearing aid guard, it will likely come with instructions, so it’s a good plan to follow those instructions to the best of your ability.

I Changed my Wax Guard, What’s Next?

Once you’ve changed your earwax guard, your hearing aids should start producing clearer sounds. Hearing and following conversation should be much better. And that can be a huge relief if you’ve been discouraged with your (fully charged) hearing aid.

There’s definitely a learning curve with regards to maintaining any complex device such as hearing aids. So just keep in mind: if your hearing aid sounds weak and your batteries are fully charged, it may be time to replace your earwax guard.

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.