“Should I replace or repair a damaged hearing aid?” is among the more frequent questions we are asked. The answer is “Well, that depends.” It is really an individual decision, and the “correct answer” is as individual as the individuals who ask it.

For starters, it should be noted that hearing aids – no matter how well-built they are and what their initial price was – occasionally break, or begin to perform incorrectly. Why? Mostly because of sustained use in an inhospitable environment filled with moisture and ear wax. Ear wax is produced naturally, and we need it because it safeguards the lining of our ear canals, but it can “gum up the inner workings” of hearing aids; similarly, lingering water is normal after swimming or showering, but it too can harm hearing aids. Add to these two issues breakage (from inadvertently dropping the hearing aids and natural wear and tear (as inner tubing or parts degrade), and you can safely bet that sooner or later your hearing aid will require either repair or replacement.

One of the factors that should most affect your choice to “repair or replace” is whether you like your current hearing aids. If you do, or you have gotten accustomed to the sound they produce( as many wearers of older analog hearing aids do), it might make more sense to have them repaired than to upgrade them with newer digital aids which could produce a notably different sound or wearing experience.

One more thing to consider, obviously, is cost – new hearing aids might cost thousands, but fixing your present hearing aids may cost only a couple of hundred dollars. Balancing this, however, many people have insurance that will partly or fully cover the cost of new hearing aids, but which will not pay for repairing them.

Another common question that arises if you decide to have your hearing aids repaired is, “Do I return them to the clinic where I purchased them, or send them to a repair lab myself?” There are several added benefits bringing them to a local audiologist or hearing instrument specialist as opposed to working with a distant repair laboratory directly. Your local hearing instrument specialist can figure out if repairs are truly necessary, may be able to make small repairs on their own, or have connections with local tradesmen that work on your model of hearing aid so you will reduce the amount of time you are without it.For hearing aid repairs which can’t be completed locally, your audiologist will manage the shipping, paperwork and lab directions for you. Because they work in bulk with suppliers, their prices may be the same or better than you can get yourself.

More choices are open to those who elect to replace their existing hearing aids. It is advisable to be open to new designs and technology acknowledging that anything new takes getting accustomed to. More modern hearing aids are smaller and offer enhanced programability to achieve the sound quality you prefer. So the decision whether to “replace or repair” is still yours, but hopefully this advice will assist you.