One of our most frequently asked questions is, “My hearing aid is damaged or is no longer working – should I have it repaired, or get a new one?” Given only that limited information, we have to answer honestly, “It depends.” Picking between repair or replace doesn’t have a one perfect answer. It really depends on the specific situation and the requirements of the individual asking the question.
An important thing to take into account is that all hearing aids – irrespective of how high-end they were or how well they were built – will at times start to work less well, or break. They function, after all, in an atmosphere (your ear canals) that is hostile to them because it contains moisture and ear wax. Ear wax is normal and necessary because it safeguards the delicate lining of the outer ear, but it can be tough on hearing aids; water that stays in the ears after bathing or swimming can be even tougher on them. Beyond the inhospitable environment, unintended breakage from drops, and wearing away of parts both play a role in declining performance. You should be expecting that your hearing aids will need replacement or repair at some point. They won’t keep going forever.
So how should you decide between replace and repair? The most important consideration really is you, and whether you like your present hearing aids. If you do (as many wearers of older analog hearing aids do), it might be better for you to have them repaired than to change to newer digital hearing aids with a different set of sound characteristics.
One more thing to consider, obviously, is cost – new hearing aids may cost thousands of dollars, but fixing your existing hearing aids may cost only a few hundred dollars. Balancing this, however, some people have insurance that will partly or fully cover the expense of new hearing aids, but which will not pay for fixing them.
If you opt to have your hearing aids fixed, another question that comes up is, “Should I take them to the clinic I bought them from, or send them to one of the many repair labs who advertise on the Internet?” There are numerous added benefits bringing them to a local hearing specialist as opposed to trying to deal with a remote repair lab directly. Your local hearing professional can figure out if repairs are genuinely necessary, might be able to make minor repairs on their own, or have relationships with local tradesmen that work on your brand of hearing aid so you’ll decrease the amount of time you are without it. If they do need to ship the hearing aid back to the manufacturer for extensive repairs, they’ll make the process easy for you and you may even get a better rate because they deal in bulk.
If you decide to replace your hearing aids, more options are available to you. Make an effort to understand the technical improvements since the last time you bought and be open to newer models. Newer digital hearing aids have more features that may help your hearing and can be more readily set to perform the way you need them to. The answer to the “replace or repair” question is still up to you, but hopefully the information we have presented will help you.