“Should I replace or repair a broken hearing aid?” is among the more common questions we are asked. Given only that much information, we have to answer honestly, “It depends.” The issue of whether to repair or replace depends upon many factors, and the “right answer” is particular to the person asking the question.
It’s worth stating in advance, that all hearing aids, without regard for their original price or quality, can be expected to break down sooner or later. The environment that hearing aids inhabit – your ear canals – is an inhospitable one for complex electronic instruments, full of moisture and ear wax. Ear wax is natural and essential because it protects the sensitive lining of the outer ear, but it can be tough on hearing aids; moisture that is left in the ears after showering or swimming can be even tougher on them. Add to these two issues breakage (from unintentionally dropping the aids) and natural wear and tear (as inner tubing or parts degrade), and you can safely bet that eventually your hearing aid will require either replacement or repair.
Probably the major thing you should consider when making the “repair or replace” determination is how you feel about your present hearing aids – do you like them, and the sound quality they produce? If you like them and are accustomed to the sound that they produce or really like how they fit, repair could be the better option for you.
An additional consideration, of course, is price – new hearing aids may cost thousands of dollars, but repairing your present hearing aids might cost only a few hundred dollars dependent on what is wrong with them. This financial concern can be influenced by insurance, however, which in some cases covers new or replacement hearing aids, but won’t pay to have existing aids repaired.
If you choose to go after a repair, the next normal question is “Should I take them back to where I bought them?”There are several added benefits bringing them to a local hearing specialist versus trying to deal with a distant repair lab directly. Your local hearing instrument specialist can figure out if repairs are truly necessary, might be able to make small repairs on their own, or have connections with local craftsmen that work on your model of hearing aid so you will reduce the length of time you are without it.For hearing aids which do require lab or manufacturer repairs, the practice will coordinate all the paperwork and shipping for you. Do not assume the price will be higher for these value-added services, because hearing specialists deal with repair labs in bulk.
If you decide to replace your hearing aid, you’ll have many additional options to look at since the last time you shopped for one. More recent hearing aid designs may have functions that interest to you, and can be fine-tuned and programmed to match your individual hearing needs. In the end, the “repair or replace” question can’t be answered by anyone other than you.