Most people see ear wax as part of their hygiene routine- something they clean out of their ears with cotton swabs. But did you know that your ears are self-cleaning, and cotton swabs aren’t always necessary or advised? Ear wax helps keep your ears clean, but in turn, it makes hearing aids dirty. Excess wax in hearing aids is a leading cause of malfunction. The wax filters on hearing aids are designed to protect the receiver from wax. So, they need to be changed before ear wax builds up. It’s important to know when to change your filters, and how to do it with care. Audiology Associates is here to help.

How Wax Filters Work

Ear wax is essential to your ear canal. It protects the skin, lubricates and cleans the ear, and blocks out dirt and bacteria. But too much ear wax is problematic, particularly for the delicate mechanism of hearing aids. Wax filters are small plastic yokes that protect speakers and receivers from wax. In some devices, the wax filters are advanced enough to block out moisture as well. They play an important role, since excessive ear wax can cause everything from distorted sound to no sound at all.

When to Change Wax Filters

The amount of ear wax produced varies from person to person. So, rather than setting a certain timeline to change filters, it’s better to check them with each cleaning. Regularly clean the exterior of your hearing aid, always paying close attention to the receiver. Check the wax filter to see if it has significant build-up. Many wax filters have visible holes in the cup. So, if the holes are clogged, or no longer visible, it’s time for a new one. Also, take note of your sound quality. If the sound weakens or diminishes, it’s a sign the wax has infiltrated the speaker, so change the filter promptly.

How to Change Wax Filters

There are a growing number of hearing aid styles, so be sure to use the same type of filter provided by the manufacturer. If you aren’t sure which kind to use, simply give us a call or stop by. General instructions apply to most custom hearing aids. Receiver in the ear (RITE) hearing aids require more frequent filter changes because they are more susceptible to damage and more prone to falling out when wax accumulates.

General Instructions:

  1. Remove your new wax filter from the package.
  2. Remove the tool from the shell and locate the two pins (one for removing the old filter, and one for inserting the new one).
  3. Insert the empty pin into the dirty wax filter and gently pull it loose.
  4. Insert the new wax filter with the other pin.
  5. Remove the tool by rolling it off and then discard it.

Your wax filters are your hearing aid’s best defense, so don’t forget to change them out. If you need help knowing when to switch them or how to do so, come see us. We are always here to help!

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Melissa Segev, Au.D., F.A.A.A.

Melissa Segev, Au.D., F.A.A.A.

Dr. Segev is a Maryland native and the co-owner of Audiology Associates. She received her undergraduate degree from Towson University and her clinical doctorate in audiology (Au.D.) from the University of Pittsburgh. She currently serves as president of the Maryland Academy of Audiology and is a fellow member of the American Academy of Audiology and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology. She has given talks at national conventions on hearing loss and the best ways to manage patient care. Dr. Segev specializes in the programing and fitting of hearing aids as well as balance disorders.