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

Your hearing aids aren’t sounding right despite the fact that you just changed the batteries. Everything seems muffled, distant, and just a little off. It’s like you can’t hear the full sound you’re supposed to be getting. When you do some basic research, a low battery seems to be the probable reason. And that’s irritating because you’re very careful about placing your hearing aid on the charging station before you go to sleep every night.

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

You’re Hearing Aids Reside 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 model. And for ideal efficiency, other models have been designed to be placed directly in the ear canal. Regardless of where your hearing aid is situated, it will be close to an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

A Shield Against Earwax

Now, earwax does a lot of great things for the health of your ears ((various infection can actually be prevented because of the antibacterial and anti-fungal properties of earwax, according to many studies). So earwax can actually be a positive thing.

But earwax and hearing aids don’t always work together quite as well–earwax moisture, especially, can interfere with 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, known as wax guards, created to prevent earwax from interfering with the general function of your device. And the “weak” sound might be brought about by these wax guards.

Wax Guard Etiquette

A wax guard is a little piece of technology that is incorporated into your hearing aid. The concept is that the wax guard lets sound to go through, but not wax. In order for your hearing aid to continue to work efficiently, a wax guard is indispensable. But issues can be created by the wax guard itself in some cases:

  • It’s been too long since the wax guard was cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard should be a monthly (or so) maintenance task. A wax guard blocks the wax but it can become clogged and like any type of filter, it has to get cleaned. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is plugging up the wax guard and every once in a while, you will have to clean it.
  • You have a dirty hearing aid shell: And let’s remember your hearing aid shell, which also needs to be cleaned when you change your wax guard. If earwax is covering your hearing aid, 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 impede the function of the hearing aid).
  • It’s time for a professional clean and check: At least once per year you need to get your hearing aid professionally cleaned and checked to be certain it’s working properly. You should also consider having your hearing checked regularly to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
  • You haven’t changed your wax guard for some time: Just like any other filter, eventually, the wax guard will no longer be able to effectively perform its job. A wax guard can only be cleaned so many times. When cleaning no longer does the trick, you may have to replace your wax guard (you can buy a specialized toolkit to make this process smoother).
  • You have replaced your wax guard with the wrong model: Most hearing aid manufacturers have their own special wax guard design. Sound that is “weak” can be the result if you purchase the wrong wax guard for your model.

Be certain you follow the included instruction for best success with your wax guard.

I Changed my Wax Guard, What’s Next?

You should notice much improved sound quality after you change your wax guard. You’ll be able to hear (and follow) conversations again. And if you’ve been dealing with weak sound quality from your hearing aids, this can be quite a relief.

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

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