“Should I repair or replace a damaged hearing aid?” is among the more frequent questions we are asked. Given only that much information, we have to answer truthfully, “It depends.” This is an individual choice, and the “correct answer” is as individual as the individuals who ask it.

For starters, it must be mentioned that hearing aids – regardless of how well made they are or what their original cost was – occasionally fail, or begin to function incorrectly. Why is that the case? Primarily due to sustained use in a hostile environment containing moisture and ear wax. Ear wax is normal and necessary because it safeguards the sensitive lining of the outer ear, but it can be hard on hearing aids; moisture that remains in the ears after showering or swimming can be even harder on them. Additionally, there is obviously the potential for breakage due to an accident or dropping the aids, and the inner tubing and other components inevitably wear out with time, so after a few years you can expect your aids needing repair or replacement.

Probably the major thing you should consider when making the “repair or replace” determination is how you feel about your current hearing aids – do you like them, and the sound they produce? If you do (as many wearers of older analog hearing aids do), it might be easier for you to have them fixed than to switch to newer digital hearing aids with a notably different set of sound characteristics.

A further consideration, of course, is price – brand new hearing aids might cost thousands, but repairing your existing aids may cost only a few hundred dollars dependent on what’s wrong with them. This economic concern can be influenced by insurance, however, which in some instances covers new or replacement hearing aids, but will not pay to have existing aids fixed.

Another concern that arises if you decide to have your hearing aids repaired is, “Do I return them to the store where I purchased them, or send them to a repair lab myself?” While you could choose to deal with a remote repair lab directly, your local audiologist is a tremendous resource. Think about whether you are capable of assessing whether a badly performing hearing aid needs repairs versus cleaning? Can you figure out if your damaged aid is fixable at all? Your neighborhood audiologist or hearing instrument specialist can tell you what is really wrong with it and might be able to correct it then and there. If they need to send the hearing aid back to the manufacturer or outside lab for extensive repairs, they will make the process easy for you and you might even get a better price because they work in bulk.

Far more options are open to those who elect to replace their existing hearing aids. It is advisable to be open to new styles and technologies understanding that anything new takes getting accustomed to. More modern hearing aids are smaller and offer enhanced programability to obtain the sound quality you want. So the choice whether to “repair or replace” is still yours, but hopefully this advice will assist you.