Ear wax is one of the most common reasons for hearing aid failure, and also one of the easiest of hearing aid repairs. In most cases you can repair your hearing aid yourself when earwax is the problem.
The first step in diagnosing your hearing aid for an earwax problem is a visual inspection. It is important to know where to look. The speaker and the microphone are both susceptible to become plugged with wax, which can cause your hearing to be weak, distorted, or produce no sound at all.
Every hearing aid is different so where and what you are looking for will depend on whether you wear open-fit, In-The-Ear, or Behind-The-Ear hearing aids.
If you wear an in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid the microphone is located on the faceplate near the battery compartment. You can see the microphone on hearing aid C in diagram 1 (it’s at the top and looks like a black dot about the size of a period). Looking at hearing aid C out of the ear, you can see the microphone at the top and the vent at the bottom.
The speaker port is on end that is inserted into your ear. On almost all In-The-Ear hearing aids there are two openings on the tip; one is the speaker port and the other is an air vent that runs all the way through the hearing aid to the outside. You can see the vent opening on hearing aid B (where it is in the ear) at the very top of the hearing aid. The microphone port is also visible on the bottom of hearing aid B, almost covered by the ear.
If you need to diagnose an In-The-Ear hearing aid for a wax problem then go to our post about In-The-Ear hearing aid earwax removal.
If you wear a behind the ear hearing aid (like hearing aid D) then you will have an earmold that uses a tube to channel the sound from the speaker into your ear. The very tip of this earmold usually has two openings, one for the tube that connects the custom mold to the hearing aid, and another that is an air vent which opens in the back of the earmold.’
The microphone is located on the top of the hearing instrument (on the opposite side of the part that rests on the back of your ear).
If you need to diagnose a Behind-The-Ear hearing aid for a wax problem then go to our post about Behind-The-Ear hearing aid earwax removal.
Open-fit hearing aids are very similar to Behind-The-Ear hearing aids, but (usually) without a custom earmold. Most open-fit hearing aids have a soft dome on the end of the tube that is inserted into the ear canal.
The microphone is located on the top where the tube connects to the hearing aid on some models, as in diagram 2, but can also be located on the back (on the same side as the program button in diagram 2).
If you need to diagnose an open-fit hearing aid for a wax problem then go to our post about open-fit hearing aid earwax removal.
Diagram 1 is from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/medical/IM02886
Diagram 2 is from http://hearinglife.com.au/maintaining-your-hearing-aid/