How Long Do Hearing Aids Last?
One of the most common questions we hear during a hearing aid consultation is “how long will these devices last?” It’s a smart question to ask given the investment that is required for a new pair of hearing aids. Many long-term hearing aid users will also start to worry that their devices will fail suddenly, leaving them without sound.
The average hearing aid user will upgrade their technology after 5 to 6 years. Some people will continue to use a hearing aid for 8-10 years, while others will choose to buy new technology after just two years. Let’s take a look at what might affect how long someone uses a hearing aid:
- Repairs: Like all electronics, hearing aids are more prone to requiring repairs the older they are. After the initial manufacturer’s warranty expires on the hearing aid (typically at 2 to 3 years), all repairs are out-of-pocket costs. Depending on what has gone wrong, repairs can range from $50 to $300+. In most cases, frequent repairs also mean time spent without the hearing aid, which can be very difficult for people who have grown dependent on their amplification. If repairs become too frequent, a person may opt to put their money towards updated technology. Also keep in mind that eventually, a manufacturer will run out of replacement parts for older models of hearing aids, so it become more difficult to get an 8-10 year old hearing aid repaired.
- Updates to technology: Hearing aid technology turns over very quickly. Most manufacturer’s release at least one new product every year, if not more often. It usually takes about five years for someone to notice a significant increase in sound quality and functionality of the hearing aid in order to justify upgrading technology.
- Loss/Damage: New hearing aids usually have a loss and damage warranty for 1-3 years. During that time, if you lose a device, the manufacturer will replace it with a new one for a small fee. Outside of the warranty, if you lose the hearing aid, you have to purchase a new one to replace it.
- Hearing changes: Most hearing aids can be reprogrammed to fit a large range of hearing levels. In rare instances of severe and sudden hearing deterioration, it is possible that someone would need to purchase a power device, which would be a new hearing aid designed to fit worsening hearing.
If you are wondering if newer hearing aids are appropriate for you, or you are noticing increased difficulties hearing, it’s a good idea to visit your audiologist. He or she can make recommendations for improving your current devices or moving forward with purchasing new technology. Remember that this is your journey, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and state your preferences. We look forward to helping you along the way.
Congratulations! You should consider your decision to purchase hearing aids to be a smart investment of both your time and money. As you continue to get used to your new devices, you will likely develop a strong bond with your hearing aids, and will want to be without them as infrequently as possible. It is important that you develop a basic hearing aid maintenance plan that you routinely follow to ensure peak performance of your devices. You should also be familiar with common causes of hearing aid damage so that you can avoid exposing your hearing aids to hazardous conditions (although even the most meticulous hearing aid wearer will need a repair at some point in time!)
Damage to Hearing Aids: What to Expect
Moisture and earwax are two of the most common causes of hearing aid damage. It is estimated that as many as 75% of the hearing aid repairs seen in our office are related to these two items.
- Earwax: Although the degree to which a hearing aid is exposed to earwax is determined more by body chemistry than good cleaning practices, cleaning your hearing aid regularly with a lint free cloth or hearing aid cleaning wipe will limit the problems resulting from earwax. Cleaning your hearing aid with a solvent or household cleaner is not recommended and can result in damage to the hearing aid casing or components.
- Moisture: Moisture problems related to the environment are difficult to avoid, and the use of a hearing aid drying system (discussed below) is the best solution for this. To avoid accidental moisture damage, avoid storing your hearing aids in your bathroom or kitchen where moisture levels are high. We recommend storing in the original case on your dresser or nightstand. In addition, posting a note on your shower door can help prevent accidentally wearing your hearing aid into the shower.
- Other: Other common reasons hearing aids become damaged include:
- Pets (many pets love to chew hearing aids)
- Hairspray or other hair products
- Dropping the hearing aid
- Incorrect battery insertion
- Exposure to excessive heat (being left inside a car, etc)
Hearing Aid Care Products
Routine Care = Longer Hearing Aid Life and Better Hearing Aid Performance
There are many products designed to help you care for your hearing aids. Listed below are some of our most commonly recommended products:
- Hearing Aid Dryers (Desiccant jars): Basic dry jars cost as little as $10.00. More sophisticated electric dryers are also available for purchase and contain UV lamps which have antimicrobial benefits.
- Cleaning Wipes: Wipes designed specifically for use with hearing aids help control wax build-up.
- Tubing Blowers: Tubing blowers are used to clean the tubing of behind-the-ear hearing aids. This also helps with moisture build-up which often occurs in hearing aid tubing, which may help reduce how often tubing needs to be changed.
Establishing a good maintenance plan is an essential part of your hearing aid journey and will help ensure that your hearing aid functions at peak performance for many years to come. If you are unsure of cleaning procedures for your hearing aid or are in need of a hearing aid repair, make an appointment with your audiologist to discuss the proper plan for you and your hearing aids!