One of the most common questions we hear is, “My older hearing aid is broken or isn’t functioning the way it used to – do you think I should purchase a new one, or have it fixed?” The truthful answer has to be, “That depends.” Deciding between repair or replace does not have a one right answer. It truly depends on the situation and the preferences of the person asking the question.
It’s worthwhile to state in advance, that all hearing aids, regardless of their initial price or quality, can be expected to stop working eventually. They function, after all, in an environment (your ear canals) that is hostile to them because it contains cerumen (ear wax) and moisture. Ear wax is normal and necessary because it protects the delicate lining of the outer ear, but it can be hard on hearing aids; moisture that is left in the ears after bathing or swimming can be even tougher on them. Add to these 2 factors breakage (from inadvertently dropping the aids) and normal wear and tear (as internal tubing or components wear out), and you can be fairly certain that sooner or later your hearing aid will need either repair or replacement.
One of the things that should most influence your decision to “repair or replace” is whether you like your current hearing aids. If you like them and are familiar with the sound that they produce or really like the fit, repair may be the more sensible choice for you.
Cost is clearly another main consideration. While brand new hearing aids may cost thousands, repairing your current hearing aids may be possible for a few hundred. This monetary concern can be affected by insurance, however, which in some cases will pay for replacement hearing aids, but will not cover having existing hearing aids repaired.
If you decide to have your hearing aids repaired, another question that arises is, “Should I take them to the clinic I bought them from, or send them to one of the numerous laboratories who advertise online?” There are many added benefits bringing them to a local audiologist as opposed to trying to deal with a distant repair lab directly. Your local hearing instrument specialist will be able to figure out if repairs are genuinely necessary, might be able to make small repairs on their own, or have relationships with local craftsmen that work on your brand of hearing aid so you will reduce the length of time you are without it.For hearing aid repairs which can’t be accomplished locally, your hearing professional will manage the shipping, paperwork and laboratory instructions for you. Because they work in volume with manufacturers, their prices may be the exact same or better than you can get yourself.
If you decide to replace your aids, more options are available to you. Take some time to find out about the technical advances since the last time you purchased and be open to newer designs. Newer hearing aid models may have features that you are interested in, and can be fine-tuned and programmed to suit your unique hearing needs. The answer to this “replace or repair” question is still your responsibility, but we hope that the information we have provided will help you to make it.