For the most part, hearing aids don't require too much effort to maintain, but it is extremely important that hearing aid wearers remember to regularly clean their devices to keep them in good shape. Practicing good hearing aid care will add years to the life of your hearing aids and ensure that they remain effective in helping your hearing.
Hearing aid performance issues can often be traced back to earwax buildup in devices that are not cleaned regularly. It is important to regularly clean out the earbud, microphone, and receiver of your hearing aid to remove any wax that has built up. When wax is not cleaned out it can lead to a multitude of problems such as additional feedback or whistling, substandard sound quality, and overall poor performance of your hearing aids. To ensure proper cleaning, you should use a hearing aid cleaning kit that includes a dry brush, wax pick, and dry cloth - never expose your hearing aid to any moisture such as water or a cleaning solution. If the hearing aids are rechargeable, it is also very crucial to clean your charging case along with your hearing aids as dust, debris, and wax can build up in the case as well. Using a dry cloth, the charging contacts of the case should be cleaned along with any other surfaces that the hearing aids make contact with.
One accessory that hearing aid wearers should be familiar with is a wax guard. While it is important to routinely clean your hearing aids from wax buildup, your devices do have built-in earwax protection in the form of a wax guard - a small filter attached to the sound outlet of your hearing aid that protects wax and other debris from getting inside the hearing aid. If you remove the ear tip or ear dome from your hearing aid, you should see a little white circular tube attached to the earpiece - that white tube is the wax guard. Wax guards are extremely vital to the health of your hearing aid as they prevent wax and dirt from reaching the internal components of your hearing aid, which can be damaging.
Over time, these wax filters can decrease in efficacy as the amount of earwax and debris builds up. Wax guards should be replaced regularly and as frequently as needed. If you notice visible wax buildup on the wax guards, it is a good time to replace them. A general rule of thumb would be to replace your wax guards every month, but this may need to be more frequent if you produce more earwax or if you notice changes in the performance of your hearing aids (muffled or distorted sound, lower volume, etc).
For wax guard replacements, you will need a wax guard kit. While the steps will vary a bit depending on the style of your hearing aid (see below for Ceretone hearing aid wax guard replacement video tutorials), here are some general guidelines:
First, carefully remove the ear tip from your hearing aid and remove a new wax guard from the kit, using the holder (long black stick). One end of the holder will have a new wax guard and the other end should be narrower and slightly pointed - use this end to remove the old wax guard. Then, flip the tool over and place the new wax guard into the end of your hearing aid. If you cup the hearing aid in your hand, you should hear some feedback which indicates that the hearing aid is working.
Wax Guard Replacement Video for QUADRA M1X:
Wax Guard Replacement Video for LAMBDA L1X:
Wax Guard Replacement Video for GEMINI M5:
How often should your hearing aids be cleaned? Typically, your devices should be wiped down every night before you go to bed - this will help avoid wax and debris from building up. While the amount of earwax you produce can vary from person to person, your hearing aids will be exposed to some amount of wax on a daily basis. If you know that you tend to produce a higher amount of earwax, it might be a good idea to incorporate a more frequent cleaning schedule and perhaps clean your hearing aids twice a day. You may also want to schedule an appointment with an audiologist to check for earwax impaction if you feel that you are producing too much earwax or if you would like a professional ear cleaning.