One of the questions most asked of hearing specialists is, “My hearing aid is broken or is not working as well as it used to – should I have it repaired, or get a new one?” Presented with only that much information, we have to answer truthfully, “Well, that depends.” Picking between repair or replace doesn’t have a one correct answer. It truly depends on the situation and the preferences of the individual asking the question.
It’s worthwhile to state in advance, that all hearing aids, irrespective of their original quality or price, should be expected to break down eventually. Why does this happen? Mostly because of sustained use in an inhospitable environment containing ear wax and moisture. Ear wax is natural and essential because it safeguards the sensitive lining of the outer ear, but it can be tough on hearing aids; moisture that stays in the ears after bathing or swimming can be even tougher on them. Additionally, there is obviously the potential for breakage from an accident or dropping the aids, and the internal tubing and other components inevitably break down with time, so after some years you can count on your aids needing replacement or repair.
So how do you decide between replace and repair? The most important consideration really is you, and whether you like your current hearing aids. If you do, or you have become used to the sound they deliver( as many wearers of older analog hearing aids do), it might be preferable to have them fixed than to upgrade them with newer digital aids that may produce a very different sound or wearing experience.
A second thing to consider, obviously, is price – whereas a brand new set of hearing aids may cost thousands of dollars, your existing hearing aids may cost only a few hundred dollars to repair. The part we cannot answer for you is the influence of insurance. Some insurance policies include replacements, but not repairs or have different policies on partial or full coverage.
If you opt to have your hearing aids repaired, another common question that comes up is, “Should I take them to the clinic I purchased them from, or send them to one of the numerous repair labs who advertise on the Internet?” While internet advertisers will try paint your hometown audiologist as nothing more than a middle-man, that isn’t accurate. There are many advantages to staying local. To begin with, they can figure out if repairs are actually needed. Second, they might be able to get the repairs done on-site reducing the length of time you do not have your hearing aid. For hearing aid repairs that can’t be completed locally, your audiologist will manage the shipping, paperwork and lab instructions for you. Because they deal in bulk with suppliers, their pricing may be the exact same or better than you could get yourself.
If you choose to replace your hearing aids, more choices are open to you. Take some time to understand the technological advances since the last time you bought and be open to improved models. Newer digital hearing aids have additional features that might help your hearing and can be more readily programmed to perform the way you need them to. Ultimately, the “replace or repair” question can’t be answered by anyone other than you.