Three steps for removing ear wax from your hearing aidsPublished: Sunday March 18, 2012, 21:47The build up of wax on hearing aids is a common and frustrating problem for those who wear them.

Excess wax can cause hearing aids to break down; in fact, ear wax is one of the leading causes of hearing aid repair. To combat this problem, this article gives three simple techniques you can use at home to keep hearing aids free of ear wax and in proper working condition.

1) Visual inspection

Each day, before putting on your aids and when taking them off, conduct a visual inspection of your hearing aid. Wax can build up in the tubing, the sound bore, and the microphone ports, blocking sound from entering or exiting the hearing aid. When this happens, the aid can sound weak, distorted, or muted, as if no sound is coming out of the hearing aid at all.

In your visual inspection, check to see if ear wax is filling up any visible parts. Depending on where possible build up occurs, ear wax may be removed using a few basic tools; you can find these tools at your local hearing aid center.

2) Remove and replace external filters and guards

More modern hearing aids are equipped with built-in wax protecting mechanisms. These features are commonly known as filters or wax guards, and their goal is to prevent wax from entering the aid causing damage to its internal components.

The filters and wax guards can be easily removed for cleaning purposes. You may have received replacement filters and wax guards at your hearing aid fitting, but if not, they are easily obtained wherever you purchase hearing aid accessories. How do you know if these parts need to be replaced? In general, when filters or wax guards begin to look dirty, or when they have visible wax buildup, it is time to change them.

3) Clean with the proper tools

If you're new to the world of hearing aids, you may be confused about which tools are used and for what purposes. This section describes some of these tools, explaining how they can be used for wax removal.

Small wax loop and brush

The small loop and brush can be used to remove debris from the sound bore (where the sound comes out). Be careful not to jab the loop directly into the sound bore; instead, use a scooping motion like a tiny shovel. The small brush that is located at the opposite end of the wax loop can be used to sweep gently across the hearing aid's surface. This motion gets rid of any dry or loose ear wax or debris that might be present.

Small flexible wire

Ear wax may work its way into Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids via the tubing that connects the hearing aid to the ear mold. If this happens, remove the ear mold and tubing from the hearing aid. Carefully, insert a small, flexible wire through the tube. This can help push out any obstructing wax.

Air blowers

If the wax is not tightly stuck within the tube, or if the wax is light and flaky, an air blower may be your tool of choice. Place the tip of the blower at the tip of the tube and puff air through, forcing out any lodged ear wax, debris or moisture. If you feel the air escape through the sound bore, you'll know that sound can also easily pass through the tubing into the ear.

These simple, at home tips and tools should help you keep your hearing aids clean and devoid of ear wax, as well as precluding the need for costly repairs.

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