One of the questions most asked of hearing specialists is, “My hearing aid is damaged or is no longer working – should I replace it with a new one, or have it repaired?” The honest answer has to be, “Well, that depends.” This is an individual decision, and the “right answer” is as individual as the people who ask it.

It is worth stating in advance, that all hearing aids, irrespective of their initial price or quality, can be expected to break down at some point. The surroundings that hearing aids inhabit – your ear canals – is a hostile one for sophisticated electronic devices, filled with moisture and ear wax. Both ear wax and moisture are natural, but your hearing aids don’t like either of them. Water can harm the fine electronics while wax can generally ‘gum up’ the interior. Over and above the hostile environment, unintended breakage from drops, and wear and tear of parts both play a role in declining performance. You should be expecting that your hearing aids will require repair or replacement at some point. They are not going to last indefinitely.

One of the factors that should most affect your decision to “repair or replace” is whether you like your present hearing aids. If you do, or you have become used to the sound they deliver, it might be preferable to have them repaired than to upgrade them with newer digital aids which could produce a very different sound or wearing experience.

An additional thing to consider, obviously, is price – whereas a brand new pair of hearing aids could cost thousands, your current hearing aids may cost only a few hundred dollars to fix. Balancing this, however, many people have insurance that will partly or fully cover the cost of new hearing aids, but which won’t pay for repairing them.

If you choose to have your hearing aids repaired, another topic that comes up is, “Should I take them to the place I bought them from, or send them to one of the many repair labs who advertise online?” There are numerous advantages taking them to a local hearing specialist versus trying to deal with a distant repair laboratory directly. Think about whether you are qualified to assess whether a poorly operating hearing aid needs cleaning versus repair? Are you able to determine if your damaged aid is capable of being repaired? Your local audiologist or hearing instrument specialist can tell you what is in fact wrong with it and may be able to fix it right then. For hearing aids that do need laboratory or manufacturer repairs, the office will handle all the paperwork for you. Do not assume the price will be higher for these value-added services, because hearing specialists deal with repair labs in larger volumes.

If you opt to replace your hearing aid, you will have many additional options to consider since the last time you shopped. More recent digital hearing aids have more features that might help your hearing and can be more easily set to perform the way you want them to. The answer to the “repair or replace” question is still up to you, but we hope that the information we have offered will help you to make it.