While audiologists typically recommend replacing hearing aids every three to five years, the appropriate time for a patient to consider new aids varies widely. Below we will outline some steps to take when making that decision.
Are your current hearing aids addressing all your hearing needs?
This is the first question to ask yourself. Think about the variety of different listening situations that you typically experience, and how well you feel your hearing aids help you in each of these situations. To help you get started, the following is a list of common situations that may be applicable. As you rate your listening satisfaction in each of these situations, also think about how often they occur and how important they are to you. If you find multiple and/or important situations where your current hearing aids are performing less than satisfactorily, it could be time to explore newer technology.
- Talking on the phone
- Dining out at restaurants with friends and family
- Participating in family gatherings
- Spending time outdoors
- Watching TV
- Listening to music
- Attending lectures or religious services
Do you often have to send your hearing aids in for repairs?
Hearing aids consist of sensitive electronic components that can be damaged by exposure to humidity, earwax, debris, and sweat. Depending on environmental conditions, individual ear characteristics, and wearing habits, some people will experience more hearing aid break-downs than others. These problems could be exacerbated when these hearing aids are not cleaned and dried thoroughly on a daily basis. Wax that gets stuck in receivers can be cleaned out, and certain components can be exchanged, but over time hearing aid performance might decline faster. If you live in hot and humid regions, tend to produce excessive earwax, and/or lead a physically active lifestyle, you may have to replace your hearing aids more often.
Visit your hearing care professional
As with all things related to your hearing and hearing aids, your hearing care professional will be your best source of information and advice. When considering the need for new hearing aids, make an appointment with your hearing care professional to accomplish these three things:
- Have your current hearing aids professionally checked and cleaned. Besides a thorough a cleaning, make sure your hearing care professional performs an electroacoustic check of the hearing aids, which will provide more objective insight into the performance of the hearing aids.
- Have your hearing evaluated if you have not had it done in the last year. Hearing loss often worsens over time, and it is important to make sure that your impression of the hearing aids’ inadequacy isn’t actually due to a change in your hearing. Oftentimes, your current hearing aids can be reprogrammed to accommodate minor changes in hearing ability. Nevertheless, it is possible that your hearing loss has progressed beyond the amplification capability of your hearing aids in which case they should be replaced.
- Discuss the latest hearing technology available. Like all things digital, hearing aid technology has advanced by leaps and bounds just within the past few years. There are now hearing aids that can be controlled by your smartphone, allow your hearing care professional to adjust your fittings remotely without you having to step into the office, directly stream phone calls, music, and TV, and offer less fatigue due to reduced listening effort throughout the day. Depending on your hearing loss, certain hearing aids may even allow you to understand speech better in challenging listening situations like restaurants, busy malls, and even outdoors, than people with normal hearing.*
* Study conducted at the University of Northern Colorado, 2015, examined the effectiveness of the new features of primax by collecting and analyzing ongoing EEG data while subjects performed speech testing. For both primax features SpeechMaster and EchoShield, the objective brain behavior measures revealed a significant reduction in listening effort when the feature was activated.