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Eastside Audiology - Issaquah, WA Eastside Audiology - Issaquah, WA

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

Your hearing aids don’t sound right even though you just changed the batteries. Everything seems distant, muffled, and not right. It’s like some of the sound is lacking. When you troubleshoot the issue with a basic Google search, the most probable answer seems like a low battery. Which annoys you because you keep the batteries charged each night.

Nevertheless, here you are, struggling to hear your bunch of friends carry on a conversation 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 weak sound you may want to check: your own earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Live in Your Ears

Your ears are where your hearing aids live under normal circumstances. Even when you wear an over-the-ear model, there’s at least contact with your ear canal. And for optimal performance, other models have been created to be positioned directly in the ear canal. Regardless of where your hearing aid is situated, it will be close to an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

A Shield Against 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 prevent numerous infections). So earwax can actually be a positive thing.

But earwax and hearing aids don’t always get along quite as well–the standard functionality of your hearing aid can be hampered by earwax, especially the moisture. The good news is, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well aware of it.

So modern hearing aids have shields, known as wax guards, designed to prevent earwax from interfering with the normal function of your device. And the “weak” sound could be brought about by these wax guards.

Things to Know About Wax Guards

A wax guard is a small piece of technology that is integrated into your hearing aid. The concept is that the wax guard lets sound to get through, but not wax. In order for your hearing aid to continue to work effectively, a wax guard is crucial. But troubles can be caused by the wax guard itself in some cases:

  • You have a dirty 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 feasible, while you’re changing the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the interior of the hearing aid (and, obviously, this would hinder the function of the hearing aid).
  • Cleaning your earwax guard should be done once a month: it’s been too long since you last cleaned them. As with any filter, a wax guard can ultimately become clogged with the exact thing it’s been tasked with eliminating. Every once in a while, you’ll have to clean the guard or the wax caught up in it will begin to block sound waves and damage your hearing.
  • You’ve replaced your wax guard with the wrong model: Most hearing aid providers have their own special wax guard design. If you get the wrong model for your particular hearing aid, your device’s functions may be diminished, and that could result in the hearing aid sounding “weak.”
  • You haven’t replaced your wax guard for some time: As with any other filter, sooner or later the wax guard will no longer be able to properly perform its job. There’s only so much cleaning you can do to a wax guard! When cleaning no longer does the trick, you may have to change your wax guard (you can buy a special toolkit to make this process smoother).
  • It’s time for a professional clean and check: At least once per year you need to get your hearing aid professionally checked and cleaned to make certain it’s working properly. And in order to be certain that your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you also need to have your hearing tested on a regular basis.

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

I Changed my Wax Guard, What’s Next?

You should notice much improved sound quality once you switch your wax guard. Hearing and following conversation should get much better. And that’s a big relief if you’ve been annoyed with your (fully charged) hearing aid.

Like with any complex device, hearing aids do call for some regular upkeep, and there is definitely a learning curve involved. So just keep in mind: It’s probably time to change your wax guard if the sound quality of your hearing aid is poor even with a fully charged battery.

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