One of the questions most asked of hearing specialists is, “My hearing aid is damaged or is not working as well as it used to – should I replace it with a new one, or have it repaired?” The answer is “Depends.” This is an individual choice, and the “correct answer” is as individual as the individuals who ask it.

First, it must be noted that hearing aids – regardless of how well made they are and what their original price was – occasionally fail, or begin to perform incorrectly. Why does this happen? Primarily due to continued use in an inhospitable environment filled with ear wax and moisture. Ear wax is normal and essential because it protects the sensitive lining of the outer ear, but it can be tough on hearing aids; water that stays in the ears after showering or swimming can be even tougher on them. Additionally, there is always the potential for breakage due to an accident or dropping the hearing aids, and the inner tubing and other components inevitably break down with time, so after some years you can count on your aids needing replacement or repair.

So how should you decide between repair and replace? The most important consideration really is you, and whether you like your current hearing aids. If you do (as a lot of users of older analog hearing aids do), it may be easier for you to have them repaired rather than change to newer digital hearing aids with a different set of sound or ease-of-wear characteristics.

Another factor to consider, obviously, is price – whereas a new pair of hearing aids might cost thousands, your current aids might cost only a couple of hundred dollars to repair. The part we cannot answer for you is the influence of insurance. A few insurance policies include replacements, but not repairs or have different policies on full or partial coverage.

If you choose to have your hearing aids repaired, another common question that arises is, “Should I take them to the clinic I bought them from, or send them to one of the numerous laboratories who advertise on the Internet?” There are several advantages bringing them to a local hearing specialist versus trying to deal with a far-off repair laboratory directly. Your local hearing instrument specialist can determine if repairs are truly necessary, might be able to make small repairs themselves, or have relationships with local craftsmen that work on your brand of hearing aid so you’ll lessen the amount of time you are without it.If they need to ship the hearing aid back to the manufacturer or outside lab for major repairs, they’ll make the process easy for you and you may even get a better rate because they deal in bulk.

Far more choices are open to those who choose to replace their existing hearing aids. You should be open-minded about new designs and technologies understanding that anything different takes some getting used to. More recent hearing aid designs may have features that you are interested in, and can be fine-tuned and programmed to match your individual hearing needs. The answer to this “replace or repair” question is still your responsibility, but we hope that the information we have offered will help you.

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