Hearing Aids Sounding a Little Weak? Try This

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

You just exchanged the batteries, but your hearing aids just don’t sound right. Everything seems muffled, distant, and just a little off. It’s like you aren’t hearing the full sound you’re supposed to be receiving. When you troubleshoot the issue with a simple 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 platform before you go to bed each night.

Even so, here you are, fighting to hear your group of friends carry on a conversation around you. This is exactly the situation you bought hearing aids to avoid. Before you get too upset with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this weak sound you might want to check: your own earwax.

You’re Hearing Aids Live in Your Ears

Your ears are the place where your hearing aids live under typical circumstances. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear model. And for best efficiency, other designs have been designed to be positioned directly in the ear canal. No matter where your hearing aid is situated, it will be close to 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 qualities that can help prevent many infections). So earwax can actually be a good thing.

But the interaction between earwax and hearing aids is not always helpful–the moisture in earwax, particularly, can impact the normal operation of hearing aids. The good news is, this isn’t really a surprise to hearing aid manufacturers and earwax doesn’t often move in unpredictable ways.

So modern hearing aids have safeguards, called wax guards, created to stop earwax from interfering with the normal function of your device. And those wax guards could be what’s creating the “weak” sound.

Things to Know About Wax Guards

There is a small 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 essential. But issues can be caused by the wax guard itself in some circumstances:

  • It’s been too long since the wax guard has been replaced: Just like any other filter, sooner or later the wax guard will no longer be able to adequately perform its job. There’s only so much cleaning you can do to a wax guard! You might have to get a new wax guard when cleaning doesn’t (so that you can make this smoother, you can get a toolkit made specially for this).
  • Cleaning your earwax guard should be done once a month: it’s been too long since you’ve cleaned them. A wax guard filters out the wax but it can become clogged and like any kind of filter, it has to get cleaned. Every now and then, you’ll need to clean the guard or the wax caught up in it will begin to block sound waves and damage your hearing.
  • You need a professional clean and check: In order to be certain that your hearing aid is working correctly, it should be cleaned once a year. You should also think about having your hearing examined regularly to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all.
  • Your hearing aid shell needs to be cleaned: When you’re switching your earwax guard, it’s essential that your hearing aid shell be correctly cleaned as well. If your hearing aid shell is plugged with earwax, it’s possible, while you’re swapping out 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).
  • When you got your new wax guards, you got the wrong model: Most hearing aid makers have their own special wax guard design. If you get the wrong model for your particular hearing aid, your device’s functions could be impaired, and that could lead to the hearing aid sounding “weak.”

If you buy a new hearing aid guard, it will likely come with instructions, so it’s a good idea to follow those instructions to the best of your ability.

After I Change my Earwax Guard

You should observe much improved sound quality after you switch your wax guard. Hearing and following conversation should get much easier. And if you’ve been dealing with poor sound quality from your hearing aids, this can be quite a relief.

There’s undoubtedly a learning curve with regards to maintaining any complex device such as hearing aids. So just remember: if your hearing aid sounds weak and your batteries are fully charged, it could be time to change your earwax guard.

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.