One of the most common questions we hear is, “My hearing aid is broken or just isn’t working the way it used to – do you think I should buy a new one, or have it repaired?” The only possible answer is “It depends.” It is really an individual decision, and the “correct answer” is as individual as the people who ask it.
For starters, it should be noted that hearing aids – regardless of how well-crafted they are or what their original price was – occasionally fail, or begin to function incorrectly. The environment that hearing aids operate in – your ear canals – is an inhospitable one for sophisticated electronic instruments, filled with ear wax (cerumen) and moisture. Ear wax is produced naturally, and we need it because it protects the lining of our ear canals, but it can “gum up the inner workings” of hearing aids; similarly, lingering moisture is natural after swimming or showering, but it too can harm hearing aids. Additionally, there is obviously the potential for breakage from an accident or dropping the aids, and the internal tubing and other components inevitably wear out with time, so after a few years you can expect your aids needing repair or replacement.
So how do you choose between replace and repair? The biggest factor really is you, and whether you like your existing hearing aids. If you like them and are accustomed to the sound that they generate or really like how they fit, repair may be the more sensible choice for you.
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 couple of hundred dollars. Balancing this, however, many people have insurance coverage that will partly or fully cover the expense of new hearing aids, but that will not cover fixing them.
If you opt to have your hearing aids repaired, another common question that arises is, “Should I take them to the place I purchased them from, or send them to one of the numerous repair labs who advertise on the Internet?” While internet advertisers will try paint your hometown audiologist as just a middle-man, that’s not correct. There are numerous advantages to staying nearby. Think about whether you are qualified to assess whether a badly operating hearing aid needs repairs versus cleaning? Can you figure out if your damaged aid is capable of being repaired? Your neighborhood audiologist or hearing instrument specialist can tell you what is actually wrong with it and may be able to fix it on the spot. If they do need to send the hearing aid back to the manufacturer for major repairs, they’ll make the process easy for you and you might even get a better rate because they deal in bulk.
More choices are open to those who decide to replace their current hearing aids. You should be open to new styles and technology acknowledging that anything new takes getting accustomed to. Newer hearing aids are more compact and provide enhanced programability to achieve the quality of sound you want. Ultimately, the “replace or repair” question cannot be answered by anyone other than you.