“Should I repair or replace an older hearing aid?” is one of the more common questions we get. The answer is “That depends.” The question of whether to repair or replace hinges on many factors, and the “right answer” is as individual as the people asking the question.

It is worth stating in advance, that all hearing aids, regardless of their original price or quality, should be expected to break down at some point. They function, after all, in an atmosphere (your ear canals) that is inhospitable to them because it contains moisture and ear wax. Both moisture and ear wax are normal, but your hearing aids dislike them both. Moisture can harm the fine electronics while wax can ‘gum up’ the inner workings. Add to these 2 issues breakage (from accidentally dropping the hearing aids on a hard surface) and normal wear and tear (as internal tubing or components wear out), and you can safely bet that at some point your hearing aid will need either repair or replacement.

Likely the major thing you should think about when making the “replace or repair” determination is how you feel about your current hearing aids – do you like them, and the sound they deliver? If you do, it may be easier for you to have them repaired than to change to newer digital hearing aids with a different set of sound characteristics.

Cost is clearly another key consideration. While new aids might cost thousands of dollars, fixing your current hearing aids may be possible for a few hundred. Countering this, however, some people have insurance coverage that will partly or fully cover the cost of new hearing aids, but that will not cover fixing them.

If you choose to pursue a repair, the next normal question is “Should I take them back to where I bought them?”While online advertisers will try portray your local hearing professional as just a middle-man, that isn’t correct. There are several benefits of staying local. To begin with, they can figure out if repairs are in fact needed. Second, they might be able to get the repairs completed on-site reducing the amount of time you are without your hearing aid. For hearing aids which do need lab or manufacturer repairs, the clinic will coordinate all the communications and paperwork for you. Do not assume the price will be higher for these value-added services, because audiologists work with repair labs in larger volumes.

If you choose to replace your hearing aid, you’ll have many new options to consider since the last time you shopped for one. More recent hearing aid models may have functions that you are interested in, and can be fine-tuned and programmed to satisfy your unique hearing needs. So the final decision whether to “repair or replace” is still yours to make, but hopefully this advice will help you make it.