One of the more frequent questions we are asked is, “My old hearing aid is damaged or just isn’t functioning the same way it used to – do you think I should purchase a new one, or have it fixed?” Provided with only that limited information, we have to answer frankly, “Well, that depends.” The matter of whether to replace or repair depends upon many factors, and the “best answer” is particular to the person asking the question.
First, it must be noted that hearing aids – regardless of how well made they are and what their initial cost was – sometimes fail, or start to perform less than optimally. Why is that the case? Primarily due to continued use in a hostile environment 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 hard on hearing aids; moisture that stays in the ears after bathing or swimming can be even tougher on them. Add to these 2 factors breakage (from inadvertently dropping the hearing aids on a hard surface) and normal wear and tear (as inner tubing or components degrade), and you can be fairly certain that at some point your hearing aid will need either replacement or repair.
So how do you decide between replace and repair? The biggest consideration really is you, and whether you like your current hearing aids. If you do, or you have gotten accustomed to the sound they produce( as many users of older analog hearing aids do), it may make more sense to have them fixed than to replace them with newer digital aids that may produce a very different sound or wearing experience.
One more thing to consider, of course, is cost – brand new hearing aids could cost thousands, but fixing your present hearing aids may cost only a few hundred dollars. This financial issue can be affected by insurance, however, which in some cases covers replacement hearing aids, but will not pay to have existing aids fixed.
If you opt to have your hearing aids repaired, another topic that comes up is, “Should I take them to the location I bought them from, or send them to one of the many laboratories who advertise on the Internet?” There are many advantages taking them to a local audiologist or hearing instrument specialist as opposed to trying to deal with a remote repair laboratory directly. Your local hearing instrument specialist will be able to figure out if repairs are genuinely necessary, may be able to make minor repairs themselves, or have connections with local tradesmen that work on your brand of hearing aid so you will reduce the amount of time you are without it.If they do need to ship the hearing aid back to the manufacturer or outside lab for extensive repairs, they will make the process seamless for you and you might even get a better price because they work in bulk.
If you choose to replace your aids, more options are available to you. Take some time to find out about the technical innovations since the last time you bought and be open to improved designs. More modern hearing aids are smaller and provide enhanced programability to obtain the sound quality you want. So the decision whether to “repair or replace” is still yours, but hopefully this information will assist you.