You just swapped out the batteries, but your hearing aids just don’t sound the way they should. Everything seems distant, muffled, and not right. It’s like you can’t hear the full sound you’re supposed to be getting. When you research the situation, a low battery appears to be the probable cause. And that’s frustrating because you’re really careful about setting your hearing aid on the charging station before you go to bed each night.
Even so, here you are, fighting to listen as your group of friends carry on a conversation around you. This is precisely the situation you bought hearing aids to avoid. Before you get too aggravated with your hearing aids, there’s one more cause for this weak sound you may want to check: your own earwax.
A Home in Your Ears
Your ears are the place where your hearing aids live under normal circumstances. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear model. And for optimal efficiency, other versions have been designed to be positioned directly in the ear canal. Regardless of where your hearing aid is positioned, it will encounter an ever-present neighbor: earwax.
Now, earwax does some great things for the health of your ears (many studies have demonstrated that earwax ,in fact, has anti-fungal and antibacterial attributes that can help ward off numerous infections). So earwax isn’t a bad thing.
But the interaction between earwax and hearing aids is not always so good–the normal functionality of your hearing aid can be impeded by earwax, especially the moisture. On the plus side, this isn’t really a surprise to hearing aid manufacturers and earwax doesn’t often move in unpredictable ways.
So a protective component, called wax guards, have been put in place so that the normal function of your device isn’t impeded by earwax. And the “weak” sound might be brought about by these wax guards.
Things to Know About Wax Guards
A wax guard is a tiny piece of technology that is bundled into your hearing aid. The concept is that the wax guard allows sound to go through, but not wax. In order for your hearing aid to continue to work properly, a wax guard is indispensable. But there are some circumstances where the wax guard itself might cause some issues:
- You haven’t changed your wax guard for a while: As with any other filter, eventually, the wax guard will no longer be able to effectively perform its task. There’s only so much cleaning you can do to a wax guard! You may need to get a new wax guard if cleaning doesn’t (you can get a special toolkit to make this process smoother).
- Your hearing aid shell is dirty: And let’s not forget your hearing aid shell, which also has to be cleaned when you switch out 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, naturally, this would hamper the function of the hearing aid).
- Cleaning your earwax guard should be done once a month: it’s been too long since you’ve cleaned them. Much like any filter, a wax guard can eventually become clogged with the very thing it’s been tasked with eliminating. 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.
- When you bought your new wax guards, you got the wrong model: Most hearing aid providers have their own special wax guard design. Sound that is “weak” can be the result if you buy the wrong wax guard for your model.
- A professional clean and check is required: In order to be certain that your hearing aid is functioning properly, it should be cleaned once per year. You should also think about having your hearing checked regularly to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
If you purchase a new hearing aid guard, it will probably come with instructions, so it’s a good plan to follow those instructions to the best of your ability.
After I Change my Earwax Guard
You should observe much better 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 quality from your hearing aids, this can be a real relief.
There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to maintaining any complex device like hearing aids. So just keep in mind: It’s likely time to change your wax guard if the sound quality of your hearing aid is poor even when the battery is fully charged.