You just changed the batteries, but your hearing aids just don’t sound the way they should. Things just don’t sound right, like they’re a little muffled and distant. It’s like you can’t hear the full sound you’re supposed to be experiencing. When you try to diagnose the problem with a basic Google search, the most likely solution seems to be a low battery. Which frustrates you because you charge the batteries every night.
But here you are with a group of friends and you can’t quite hear their conversation. This is precisely the scenario you bought hearing aids to avoid. Before you get too aggravated with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this weak sound you might want to check: your own earwax.
You’re Hearing Aids Reside in Your Ears
Your ears are the place where your hearing aids reside under typical circumstances. Even when you wear an over-the-ear model, there’s at least contact with your ear canal. And for best performance, other designs have been created to be positioned directly in the ear canal. Earwax will be an ever-present neighbor regardless of where your hearing aid is positioned.
A Shield Against Earwax
Now, earwax does a lot of important 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 various studies). So earwax is not a negative thing.
But the relationship between hearing aids and earwax is not always so good–the normal functionality of your hearing aid can be impeded by earwax, especially the moisture. The good news is, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well mindful of it.
So modern hearing aids have safeguards, known as wax guards, designed to stop earwax from impacting the general function of your device. And those wax guards could be what’s causing the “weak” sound.
Wax Guard Etiquette
A wax guard is a tiny piece of technology that is bundled into your hearing aid. The concept is that the wax guard lets sound to go through, but not wax. Wax guards are crucial for your hearing aid to keep working correctly. But issues can be caused by the wax guard itself in some cases:
- Cleaning your earwax guard needs to be done once each month: it’s been too long since you’ve cleaned them. A wax guard blocks the wax but sometimes it gets 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 now and then, you will want to clean it.
- A professional clean and check is required: In order to be sure that your hearing aid is functioning correctly, it needs to be cleaned once a year. You should also think about having your hearing evaluated on a regular basis to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
- It’s been too long since the wax guard has been changed: Just like any other filter, eventually, the wax guard will no longer be able to effectively perform its job. There’s only so much cleaning that can be done to a wax guard! You might have to get a new wax guard if cleaning no longer works (you can purchase a specialized toolkit to make this process smoother).
- Your hearing aid shell is dirty: When you’re changing your earwax guard, it’s essential that your hearing aid shell be correctly cleaned also. If your device shell is covered with earwax, it’s feasible, while you’re changing the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the interior of the hearing aid (and this would clearly hamper the efficiency of your hearing aids).
- You’ve replaced your wax guard with the wrong model: Every model and maker has a different wax guard. Sound that is “weak” can be the result if you buy the wrong wax guard for your model.
If you get 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 Replaced my Wax Guard, What’s Next?
You should notice substantially improved sound quality after you switch your wax guard. You’ll be able to hear (and follow) conversations again. And if you’ve been coping with inferior sound from your hearing aids, this can be quite a relief.
There’s definitely a learning curve with regards to maintaining any specialized device like hearing aids. So don’t forget: if your hearing aid sounds weak and your batteries have a full charge, it may be time to change your earwax guard.