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“Should I repair or replace a damaged hearing aid?” is among the more frequent questions we get. The answer is “Depends.” It is really an individual decision, and the “ideal answer” is as individual as the people who ask it.

It is worth stating upfront, that all hearing aids, regardless of their original quality or price, can be expected to stop working at some point. Why? Mostly because of continued use in a hostile environment filled with moisture and ear wax. Ear wax is generated 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; likewise, residual water is natural after swimming or showering, but it too can harm hearing aids. Add to these two issues breakage (from unintentionally dropping the hearing aids) and normal wear and tear (as inner tubing or components wear out), and you can safely bet that at some point your hearing aid will require either repair or replacement.

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

Cost is certainly another main consideration. While new aids may cost thousands, repairing your current hearing aids might be possible for a few hundred. The part we cannot answer in this article is the influence of insurance. Some insurance plans cover hearing aid replacements, but not repairs or have varying policies on partial or full coverage.

If you decide to go after a repair, the next normal question is “Should I take them back to where I purchased them?”There are numerous added benefits taking them to a local audiologist or hearing instrument specialist versus dealing with a far-off repair lab directly. To begin with, they can establish if repairs are in fact necessary. Second, they may be able to get the repairs done on site decreasing the length of time you do not have your hearing aid. If they do need to send the hearing aid back to the manufacturer or outside lab for major repairs, they’ll make the process easy for you and you might even get a better rate because they work in bulk.

If you choose to replace your aids, more choices are available to you. Make an effort to understand the technical advances since the last time you bought and be open to improved models. Newer hearing aid models may have capabilities that you are interested in, and can be fine-tuned and programmed to match your individual hearing needs. So the decision whether to “repair or replace” is still yours to make, but we hope this advice will help you make it.