You just exchanged the batteries, but your hearing aids still don’t sound the way they should. Things just sound off, like they’re a little muffled and distant. It seems like some of the sound isn’t there. When you troubleshoot the issue with a basic Google search, the most likely answer seems like a low battery. And that’s frustrating because you’re very diligent about setting your hearing aid on the charging platform before you go to bed every night.
And yet, here you are, fighting to listen as your group of friends carry on a conversation near you. You bought hearing aids to avoid this exact circumstance. Before you get too angry 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, normally. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear model. Other versions are manufactured to be positioned in the ear canal for ideal efficiency. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor regardless of where your hearing aid is positioned.
A Guard Against Earwax
Now, earwax does lots of great things for the health of your ears ((numerous infection can actually be avoided 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–the moisture in earwax, particularly, can interfere with the standard operation of hearing aids. The good thing is, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well mindful of it.
So modern hearing aids have shields, referred to as wax guards, designed to stop earwax from impacting the general function of your device. And the “weak” sound might be caused by these wax guards.
Things to Know About Wax Guards
There is a small piece of technology in your hearing aid known as a wax guard. Wax can’t get through but sound can. Wax guards are indispensable for your hearing aid to continue working correctly. But there are some situations where the wax guard itself could cause some problems:
- A professional clean and check is needed: In order to be sure that your hearing aid is working correctly, it should be cleaned once every year. You should also think about having your hearing tested on a regular basis to be certain 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 has to be cleaned when you change your wax guard. If your hearing aid shell is covered with earwax, it’s possible, while you’re changing the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the inside of the hearing aid (and this would obviously hinder the function of your hearing aids).
- It’s been too long since the wax guard has been replaced: Wax guards need replacing like any other filter. A wax guard can only be cleaned so many times. You might need to get a new wax guard if cleaning doesn’t (in order to make this smoother, you can purchase a toolkit made specifically for this).
- You’ve replaced your wax guard with the incorrect model: Every 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.
- It’s been too long since the wax guard has been cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard should be a monthly (or so) maintenance task. Much like any filter, a wax guard can eventually become clogged with the exact thing it’s been tasked with filtering out. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is plugging up the wax guard and every once in a while, you will need to clean it.
If you purchase a new hearing aid guard, it will likely come with instructions, so it’s a good plan to follow those instructions the best you can.
I Changed my Wax Guard, What’s Next?
You should notice substantially better sound quality after you change your wax guard. You’ll be able to hear (and follow along with) conversations again. And if you’ve been coping with weak sound from your hearing aids, this can be a real relief.
There’s certainly a learning curve with regards to maintaining any complex device like hearing aids. So don’t forget: if your hearing aid sounds weak and your batteries are fully charged, it might be time to change your earwax guard.