Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

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. Everything sounds muffled, distant, and just a little off. It seems like some of the sound isn’t there. When you troubleshoot the issue with a basic Google search, the most likely solution seems like a low battery. And that’s frustrating because you’re really careful about putting your hearing aid on the charging station before you go to bed each night.

But here you are with some friends and you can’t really hear their discussion. This is exactly the situation you got hearing aids to avoid. Before you get too aggravated with your hearing aids, there’s one more cause for this weak sound you might want to check out: your own earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Live in Your Ears

Your ears are where your hearing aids reside under typical circumstances. Even when you use an over-the-ear design, there’s at least contact with your ear canal. And for best efficiency, other designs have been created to be placed directly in the ear canal. Regardless of where your hearing aid is situated, it will encounter an ever-present neighbor: earwax.

A Shield Against Earwax

Now, earwax does a lot of great things for the health of your ears (numerous studies have shown that earwax ,in fact, has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that can help ward off various infections). So earwax can actually be a good thing.

But hearing aids and earwax don’t always work together quite as well–the standard operation of your hearing aid can be impeded by earwax, especially the moisture. Fortunately, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well mindful of it.

So modern hearing aids have shields, known as wax guards, created to prevent earwax from interfering with the general performance of your device. And those wax guards might be what’s creating the “weak” sound.

Things to Know About Wax Guards

There is a tiny piece of technology inside your hearing aid known as a wax guard. Wax can’t get through but sound can. In order for your hearing aid to continue to work effectively, a wax guard is crucial. But issues can be created by the wax guard itself in some circumstances:

  • 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 possible, while you’re changing the wax guard, some of the earwax gets into the interior of the hearing aid (and this would clearly hinder the function of your hearing aids).
  • When you bought your new wax guards, you got the wrong model: Each model and maker has a different wax guard. If you buy the wrong model for your specific hearing aid, your device’s functions could be impaired, and that could lead to the hearing aid sounding “weak.”
  • A professional clean and check is required: In order to be certain that your hearing aid is functioning properly, it needs to be cleaned once per year. You should also consider getting 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 cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard needs to be a monthly (or so) upkeep routine. A wax guard filters out the wax but sometimes it gets clogged and just like 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.
  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been replaced: Wax guards wear out like any other filter. A wax guard can only be cleaned so much. When cleaning no longer does the trick, you might have to replace your wax guard (so that you can make this smoother, you can buy a toolkit made specially for this).

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

After I Change my Earwax Guard

Once you’ve changed over your earwax guard, your hearing aids should begin producing clearer sounds. Hearing and following discussions should get much better. And if you’ve been dealing with weak sound from your hearing aids, this can be quite a relief.

There’s undoubtedly a learning curve in regards to maintaining any complex device such as hearing aids. So just remember: It’s most likely time to change your wax guard if the sound quality of your hearing aid is weak even with a fully charged battery.

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.
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