Hearing aids are in fact miniature computers that are worn on the ear. They are exposed to heat, humidity, perspiration, earwax, dust, hair spray, and general daily handling. Just like any other piece of electronics, hearing aids are susceptible to wear and tear over time. The average lifespan of a hearing aid is 3 to 5 years. This may seem somewhat disappointing considering a television may last 7 to 10 years before requiring replacement. However, a television operates in a stable temperature controlled environment. In contrast, the ear is a very hostile environment for sensitive electronics. A hearing aid is expected to reliably function 14 hours a day and 365 days a year while bouncing around on a sweaty, waxy ear. A television certainly wouldn’t last long if it was exposed to the same environment as the hearing aid.
Hearing aid manufacturers have invested a lot of money and research into making hearing aids more rugged. Most are using special coatings on the electrical components to provide improved water, sweat, moisture, and dust resistance. Despite the improvements, hearing aids often require in office maintenance or even manufacturer reconditioning at some point during their lifespan. Most of the hearing aids we sell at the Hearing Institute come with a 3 year warranty. During the warranty, repairs and reconditioning are done at no charge. After the warranty, repair costs vary depending on the age of the hearing aid although issues that can be resolved in office are typically no charge.
A hearing aid user can help prolong the life of the hearing aid by regularly cleaning their devices and avoiding situations where the devices will be subject to significant moisture. Users may also purchase a hearing aid dehumidifier to help remove moisture accumulation in the hearing aids. This can reduce long term corrosion and extend the life of a device.
When considering whether to replace your hearing aids, consider both their age and improvements in technology. A five year old hearing aid would be analogous to a car with 100,000 miles on it. You may be able to squeeze more miles out of an old car, but maintenance costs increase and reliability decreases. In addition, a new car has technology, efficiency, and performance enhancements along with a new warranty. At around the 5 year mark, one should start considering the cost to benefit ratio of hearing aid replacement vs repair.