“Should I replace or repair a broken hearing aid?” is one of the more common questions we are asked. The candid answer has to be, “That depends.” This is an individual decision, and the “ideal answer” is as individual as the individuals who ask it.
The first thing to take into account is that all hearing aids – regardless of how expensive they were or how well they were built – will at times begin to perform less well, or fail. Why is that the case? Primarily due to sustained use in a hostile environment filled with moisture and ear wax. Both moisture and ear wax are normal, but your hearing aids dislike them both. Moisture can harm the tiny electronics while wax can generally ‘gum up’ the inner workings. Over and above the inhospitable environment, accidental breakage from drops, and wear and tear of parts both contribute to declining performance. You should be expecting that your hearing aids will require replacement or repair at some point. They are not going to keep going forever.
Probably the major thing you should consider when making the “replace or repair” determination is how you feel about your present hearing aids – do you like them, and the sound quality they deliver? If you do, or you have become used to the sound they deliver( as many users of older analog hearing aids do), it might make more sense to have them fixed than to upgrade them with newer digital aids that may produce a notably different sound or wearing experience.
Another factor to consider, naturally, is cost – whereas a new pair of hearing aids could cost thousands of dollars, your existing hearing aids might cost only a few hundred dollars to fix. Balancing this, however, some people have insurance that will partly or fully cover the expense of new hearing aids, but that won’t pay for fixing them.
If you choose to go after a repair, the next normal question is “Should I return them to where I bought them?”There are numerous advantages bringing them to a local audiologist or hearing instrument specialist as opposed to dealing with a remote repair lab directly. First off all, they can figure out if repairs are in fact needed. Second, they may be able to get the repairs done on site reducing the length of time you do not have your hearing aid. For hearing aids that do require lab or manufacturer repairs, the clinic will coordinate all the communications and paperwork for you. Do not assume the price will be higher for these added services, because audiologists work with repair facilities in bulk.
More choices are open to those who choose to replace their existing hearing aids. You’ll want to be open-minded about new styles and technology acknowledging that anything new takes getting accustomed to. More recent digital hearing aids have capabilities that might help your hearing and can be more easily adjusted to work the way you need them to. In the end, the “replace or repair” question cannot be answered by anyone besides you.