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

You just changed the batteries, but your hearing aids still don’t sound the way they should. Things just sound off, like they’re a little dull and far away. It’s like you aren’t hearing the full sound you’re supposed to be receiving. When you do some basic research, a battery issue appears to be the most likely reason. And that’s aggravating because you’re very diligent about putting your hearing aid on the charging platform before you go to bed every night.

Nevertheless, here you are, struggling to listen as your bunch of friends carry on a discussion around you. You got hearing aids to avoid this exact situation. Before you get too angry with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this diminished sound you may want to check out: your own earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Reside in Your Ears

Your ears are where your hearing aids reside under typical circumstances. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear model. And for optimal performance, other designs have been designed to be positioned directly in the ear canal. Wherever your hearing aid is situated, it will encounter an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

A Guard Against Earwax

Now, earwax does a lot of great 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 positive thing.

But the relationship between hearing aids and earwax isn’t always helpful–earwax moisture, in particular, can interfere with the normal operation of hearing aids. Fortunately, this isn’t really a surprise to hearing aid makers and earwax doesn’t often move in unpredictable ways.

So a protective component, known as wax guards, have been integrated so that the normal function of your device isn’t hampered by earwax. And those wax guards might be what’s creating the “weak” sound.

Wax Guard Etiquette

A wax guard is a small piece of technology that is bundled into your hearing aid. The idea is that the wax guard allows sound to pass through, but not wax. In order for your hearing aid to continue to work efficiently, a wax guard is crucial. But troubles can be caused by the wax guard itself in some circumstances:

  • You have replaced your wax guard with the wrong model: Most hearing aid providers have their own special wax guard design. Sound that is “weak” can be the outcome if you buy the wrong wax guard for your model.
  • 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 clogging your device, it’s possible, while you’re changing the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the inside of the hearing aid (and, obviously, this would hinder the function of the hearing aid).
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard was cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard needs to be a monthly (or so) maintenance task. As with any filter, a wax guard can ultimately become clogged with the exact thing it’s been tasked with eliminating. Every now and then, you’ll have to clean the guard or the wax stuck in it will begin to block sound waves and mess up your hearing.
  • A professional clean and check is required: In order to be sure that your hearing aid is functioning properly, it should be cleaned once every year. And in order to be certain that your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you should also have your hearing tested routinely.
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been changed: Wax guards wear out like any other filter. A wax guard can only be cleaned so much. You may have to get a new wax guard if cleaning no longer works (so that you can make this smoother, you can get a toolkit made specially for this).

Be certain you use the included instruction for best results with your new wax guard.

I Replaced my Wax Guard, What’s Next?

Once you’ve changed your earwax guard, your hearing aids should begin producing clearer sounds. You’ll be able to hear (and follow) conversations again. And if you’ve been coping with weak sound from your hearing aids, this can be quite a relief.

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