“Should I repair or replace a broken hearing aid?” is one of the more common questions we are asked. The truthful answer needs to be, “Depends.” This is an individual choice, and the “best answer” is as individual as the individuals who ask it.
It is worth stating upfront, that all hearing aids, irrespective of their initial quality or price, should be expected to stop working at some point. The surroundings that hearing aids operate in – your ear canals – is a hostile one for sophisticated electronic instruments, full of moisture and ear wax. Both moisture and ear wax are normal, but your hearing aids dislike them both. Water can damage the tiny electronics while wax can ‘gum up’ the inner workings. Over and above the inhospitable environment, accidental breakage from drops, and wear and tear of parts both contribute to declining performance. You should expect that your hearing aids will need repair or replacement at some point. They are not going to last forever.
Likely the major factor you should think about when making the “replace or repair” determination is how you feel about your present hearing aids – do you like them, and the sound quality they produce? If you do, it might be better for you to have them repaired than to change to newer digital hearing aids with a notably different set of sound characteristics.
A second thing to consider, obviously, is price – whereas a new pair of hearing aids may cost thousands, your existing aids may cost only a few hundred dollars to fix. The part we can’t answer in this article is the impact of insurance. Some insurance plans include hearing aid replacements, but not repairs or have different policies on full or partial coverage.
Another common question that comes up if you choose to have your hearing aids repaired is, “Do I return them to the clinic where I bought them, or send them to a repair lab myself?” There are numerous added benefits taking them to a local audiologist as opposed to working with a far-off repair lab directly. Your local audiologist will be able to figure out if repairs are genuinely necessary, might be able to make minor repairs themselves, or have connections with local technicians that work on your model of hearing aid so you’ll lessen the amount of time you are without it.If they need to send the hearing aid back to the manufacturer or outside lab for extensive repairs, they will make the process easy for you and you might even get a better price because they deal in bulk.
If you opt to replace your hearing aid, you will have many innovative options to look at since the last time you shopped. Newer hearing aids are more compact and offer superior programability to achieve the sound quality you want. Ultimately, the “replace or repair” question cannot be answered by anyone other than you.