One of the questions most asked of hearing specialists is, “My hearing aid is damaged or is not working as well as it used to – should I replace it with a new one, or have it repaired?” The only possible answer is “That depends.” It is really an individual decision, and the “correct answer” is as individual as the individuals who ask it.
It’s worthwhile to state in advance, that all hearing aids, without regard for their original quality or price, should be expected to stop working eventually. The environment that hearing aids operate in – your ear canals – is an inhospitable one for complex electronic instruments, filled with moisture and ear wax. Ear wax is natural and necessary because it guards the delicate lining of the outer ear, but it can be tough on hearing aids; water that stays in the ears after showering or swimming can be even harder on them. Over and above the inhospitable environment, accidental breakage from drops, and wear and tear of parts both contribute to declining performance. You should expect that your hearing aids will need repair or replacement sooner or later. They won’t keep going indefinitely.
One of the factors that should most influence your decision to “repair or replace” is whether you like your current hearing aids. If you do (as a lot of wearers of older analog hearing aids do), it may be better for you to have them fixed rather than change to newer digital hearing aids with a different set of sound or ease-of-wear characteristics.
Cost is certainly another major consideration. While new aids may cost thousands of dollars, fixing your existing hearing aids might be possible for a few hundred. Countering this, however, some people have insurance that will partly or fully cover the expense of new hearing aids, but that will not cover fixing them.
If you decide to pursue a repair, the next natural question is “Should I return them to where I bought them?”Although you could choose to work with a distant repair laboratory directly, your local hearing specialist is a marvelous resource. To begin with, they can establish if repairs are actually necessary. Second, they may be able to get the repairs done on-site reducing the amount of time you do not have your hearing aid. For hearing aid repairs that cannot be accomplished locally, your audiologist will take care of the shipping, paperwork and lab instructions for you. Because they work in volume with manufacturers, their prices may be the same or better than you could get on your own.
More options are open to those who elect to replace their existing hearing aids. You’ll want to be open-minded about new designs and technology understanding that anything new takes getting accustomed to. More recent digital hearing aids have more features that may help your hearing and can be more easily adjusted to perform the way you want them to. Ultimately, the “replace or repair” question can’t be answered by anyone besides you.