One of our most frequently asked questions is, “My hearing aid is broken 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.” It is really an individual decision, and the “right answer” is as individual as the people who ask it.
The first thing to take into account is that all hearing aids – no matter how expensive they were or how well they were crafted – will occasionally begin to work less effectively, or break. They operate, after all, in an atmosphere (your ear canals) that is inhospitable to them because it contains cerumen (ear wax) and moisture. Both moisture and ear wax are normal, but your hearing aids dislike them both. Moisture can damage the fine electronics while wax can ‘gum up’ the inner workings. Over and above the hostile environment, accidental breakage from drops, and wearing away of parts both contribute to declining performance. You should expect that your hearing aids will need repair or replacement at some point. They won’t keep going forever.
One of the things that should most affect your choice to “repair or replace” is whether you like your present hearing aids. If you do (as many wearers of older analog hearing aids do), it may be easier for you to have them fixed rather than switch to newer digital hearing aids with a different set of sound characteristics.
A further thing to consider, obviously, is price – brand new hearing aids may cost thousands of dollars, but repairing your existing aids may cost only a few hundred dollars. This monetary issue can be affected by insurance, however, which in some instances covers new or replacement hearing aids, but will not cover having existing hearing aids repaired.
If you opt 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 repair labs who advertise on the Internet?” While internet advertisers will try portray your local hearing professional as nothing more than a middle-man, that isn’t true. There are many advantages to staying nearby. To begin with, they can figure out if repairs are in fact necessary. Second, they might be able to get the repairs completed on-site decreasing the amount of time you are without your hearing aid. 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 may even get a better price because they deal in bulk.
If you decide to replace your hearing aid, you’ll have many innovative options to look at since the last time you shopped. More recent digital hearing aids have capabilities that may help your hearing and can be more easily programmed to perform the way you want them to. The answer to the “replace or repair” question is still your responsibility, but hopefully the information we have provided will help you.