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 needs to be, “Depends.” It is really an individual choice, and the “correct answer” is as individual as the individuals who ask it.
The first thing to take into account is that all hearing aids – no matter how high-end they were or how well they were built – will sometimes start to function less effectively, or fail. They operate, after all, in an atmosphere (your ear canals) that is inhospitable to them because it contains moisture and ear wax. Ear wax is normal and essential because it guards the delicate 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 harder on them. Add to these 2 issues breakage (from unintentionally dropping the aids and natural wear and tear (as inner tubing or components degrade), and you can safely bet that at some point your hearing aid will require either replacement or repair.
One of the things that should most influence your choice to “replace or repair” is whether you like your current hearing aids. If you do, or you have gotten accustomed to the sound they produce( as many wearers of older analog hearing aids do), it might make more sense to have them repaired than to replace them with newer digital aids which could produce a very different sound or wearing experience.
A further thing to consider, obviously, is cost – brand new hearing aids may cost thousands of dollars, but fixing your present aids might cost only a few hundred dollars dependent on what is wrong with them. The part we cannot answer for you is the influence of insurance. Some insurance plans include replacements, but not repairs or have varying policies on partial or full coverage.
If you opt to have your hearing aids fixed, another question that arises is, “Should I take them to the store I purchased them from, or send them to one of the numerous repair labs who advertise on the Internet?” While you could decide to deal with a far off repair laboratory directly, your local audiologist is a tremendous resource. To begin with, they can determine if repairs are in fact necessary. Second, they may be able to get the repairs completed on site decreasing the length of time you do not have your hearing aid. For hearing aids which do need laboratory or manufacturer repairs, the clinic will coordinate all the communications and paperwork for you. Don’t assume the price will be higher for these added services, because audiologists deal with repair facilities in bulk.
Far more choices are available to those who elect to replace their existing hearing aids. You should be open-minded about new designs and technology understanding that anything new takes some getting used to. Newer hearing aids are more compact and provide enhanced programability to achieve the sound quality you prefer. The answer to the “replace or repair” question is still your responsibility, but we hope that the information we have provided will help you.