One of the more common questions we are asked is, “My hearing aid is broken or just isn’t working the same way it used to – do you think I should replace it and buy a new one, or have it repaired?” The answer is “Depends.” The issue of whether to repair or replace depends upon many factors, and the “best answer” is particular to the person asking the question.
First, it should be noted that hearing aids – no matter how well made they are and what their initial price was – sometimes fail, or begin to function less than optimally. Why is that the case? Mostly because of ongoing use in a hostile environment containing ear wax and moisture. Ear wax is generated naturally, and we need it because it protects the lining of our ear canals, but it can “gum up the works” of hearing aids; similarly, lingering water is natural after swimming or showering, but it too can damage hearing aids. Additionally, there is always the possibility of breakage due to an accident or dropping the hearing aids, and the inner tubing and other parts inevitably degrade over time, so after several years you can expect your aids needing replacement or repair.
Probably the major thing you should think about when making the “repair or replace” determination is how you feel about your current hearing aids – do you like them, and the sound they deliver? If you like them and are familiar with the sound that they generate or really like the fit, repair could be the more sensible choice for you.
One more thing to consider, obviously, is price – brand new hearing aids may cost thousands, but repairing your present hearing aids might cost only a few hundred dollars. This financial issue can be influenced by insurance, however, which in some cases will pay for replacement hearing aids, but will not cover having existing hearing aids repaired.
Another concern that arises if you choose to have your hearing aids repaired is, “Do I return them to the location where I bought them, or send them to a repair laboratory myself?” While internet advertisers will try to position your hometown audiologist as nothing more than a middle-man, that’s not true. There are many advantages to staying nearby. Ask yourself if you are qualified to assess whether a badly functioning hearing aid needs cleaning versus repair? Are you able to determine if your damaged aid is capable of being repaired? Your neighborhood audiologist will be able to tell you what is really wrong with it and may be able to fix it on the spot. If they do need to ship the hearing aid back to the manufacturer for extensive repairs, they will make the process easy for you and you may even get a better rate because they work in bulk.
If you choose to replace your hearing aid, you’ll have many additional options to look at since the last time you shopped for one. More modern hearing aids are smaller and offer enhanced programability to obtain the quality of sound you want. In the end, the “repair or replace” question cannot be answered by anyone besides you.