Most people are unaware of the fact that their ears are self-cleaning and require very little hygiene. Consequently, they attack earwax with cotton swabs, assuming that digging that nasty wax out of their ear canals provides them with better health. The opposite is true. Earwax is the means by which your ears clean themselves. You do more harm than good with those cotton swabs and aggressive hygiene.

On the other hand, earwax is a mortal enemy of hearing aids and is a leading cause of poor performance and malfunctions. Many manufacturers have designed wax filters within their various models to help protect the receiver from earwax buildup. Replacing these filters becomes an integral part of regular maintenance. To help my patients with this necessary task, I have developed a simple guide to changing the wax filters on your hearing aids.

Why Change the Wax Filters?

Earwax contains a lot more moisture than you realize. This moisture causes damage to the intricate digital components in your hearing aids. Also called wax guards, the purpose of earwax filters is to keep earwax from penetrating to the most critical parts of the device. Whenever too much wax builds up in the filters, it begins to muffle amplification and can produce the moisture they intend to prevent. 

When Do I Change the Wax Filters?

Although monthly changes are the norm, earwax production varies from one person to another, so setting a specific time to change the wax filters in your hearing aid might not work. A better way to determine when filters need changing is to inspect them each time you clean your unit. Most wax filters have visible holes in the cup. If you can no longer see those holes or they are packed full, it is time to change the wax filter.

How Do I Change the Wax Filters?

Various hearing aid styles have slightly different filter designs, so special attention to the specific size, type, location, and other essential factors varies slightly from one instrument to another. However, some general instructions apply to just about all types of custom hearing aids. Also keep in mind that receiver in the ear (RTE) style hearing aids will require changing the filters more frequently. The general steps to changing the wax filters on your hearing aids include:

  1. Remove the new wax filter from the package.
  2. Access the tool from the shell and locate the two pins (one is for removing the old filter, and the other for inserting the new one).
  3. Insert the empty pin into the dirty wax filter to gently pull it loose from the unit.
  4. Using the other pin, gently install the new filter.
  5. Roll the tool off to remove it, and then discard it.

The Hearing Insider provides additional guidance on how to change hearing aid wax filters if you require more assistance.

Regular Maintenance

Cleaning and inspecting your hearing aid on a daily basis makes cleaning easier and allows you to prevent reduced performance issues. It also allows you to improve the longevity of your device. Replacing wax filters is an integral part of regular maintenance, which you cannot neglect. The Hearing Center of Medical Center Clinic team and I are available to help guide you through the process of knowing when and how to change the wax filters in your hearing aids. Contact us in Pensacola and the Bay Area for extra help on cleaning and maintenance or take advantage of our special walk in hours.

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Jennifer LaBorde Au.D., CCC-A

Jennifer LaBorde Au.D., CCC-A

Dr. Jennifer LaBorde is an audiologist who has been in practice since 1999. She has a Masters in Communication Disorders from University of South Alabama, Bachelor’s of Science in Communication Disorders from the University of Mississippi, and holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology.
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    The first time I noticed signs of a hearing loss was back when I was with the Memphis Police Force on the first anti-sniper unit (SWAT) team. Shooting many rounds of guns a week led to ringing in my ears, which it seemed was the start of my hearing loss.
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    I first noticed my hearing loss when I was having to ask people to repeat themselves a lot. I decided to get my first hearing test and I was very impressed with the service from The Hearing Center. The people were friendly and knowledgeable.
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    My hearing loss started when I was just 10 years old as a result of multiple ear infections. I was really struggling to hear, and as a result, I had to have a lot of ear construction to save my hearing. I was told that I would never be able to hear certain tones again.
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