Florida Hearing Matters - Fort Lauderdale, FL

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

You just swapped out the batteries, but your hearing aids still don’t sound right. Things just don’t sound right, 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 plausible answer seems like a low battery. Which annoys you because you charge the batteries each night.

But here you are with some friends and you can’t quite hear their conversation. You bought hearing aids to avoid this exact circumstance. Before you get too aggravated with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this weak sound you may want to check out: your own earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Reside in Your Ears

Your hearing aids live in your ear, normally. Even when you wear an over-the-ear design, there’s at least contact with your ear canal. Other versions are manufactured to be placed inside the ear canal for ideal results. Wherever your hearing aid is situated, it will encounter an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

A Guard Against Earwax

Now, earwax does some 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 various studies). So earwax can actually be a good thing.

But earwax and hearing aids don’t always work together quite as well–the normal operation of your hearing aid can be hampered by earwax, especially the moisture. Fortunately, this isn’t exactly a surprise to hearing aid manufacturers and earwax doesn’t usually move in unpredictable ways.

So modern hearing aids have shields, known as wax guards, created to stop earwax from interfering with the general performance of your device. And the “weak” sound may be caused by these wax guards.

Things to Know About Wax Guards

A wax guard is a small piece of technology that is incorporated into your hearing aid. Wax can’t get through but sound can. So that your hearing aid can continue to work efficiently, a wax guard is indispensable. But troubles can be caused by the wax guard itself in certain cases:

  • When you purchased your new wax guards, you got the wrong one: Most hearing aid providers have their own unique wax guard design. If you buy the wrong model for your particular hearing aid, your device’s functions may be diminished, and that may result in the hearing aid sounding “weak.”
  • You need a professional check and clean: At least once every year you need to get your hearing aid professionally cleaned and checked to be sure it’s functioning correctly. You should also consider having your hearing evaluated on a regular basis to be certain your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
  • Your hearing aid shell needs to be cleaned: And let’s remember your hearing aid shell, which also has to be cleaned when you switch out your wax guard. If your hearing aid shell is plugged 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, naturally, this would impede the function of the hearing aid).
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been changed: Wax guards wear out like any other filter. There’s only so much cleaning you can do to a wax guard! When cleaning no longer does the trick, you might have to replace your wax guard (you can purchase a special toolkit to make this process smoother).
  • Cleaning your earwax guard needs to be done once every month: it’s been too long since you’ve cleaned them. A wax guard filters out the wax but it can become clogged and just like any type 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.

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

I Changed my Wax Guard, What’s Next?

You should hear much better 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 poor sound from your hearing aids, this can be a real relief.

Much like any specialized device, hearing aids do require some regular maintenance, and there is certainly a learning curve involved. So just remember: if your hearing aid is sounding weak and your batteries are fully charged, it may be time to change your earwax guard.


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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.