Hearing aids are a significant investment for many people which improve their quality of life and ability to communicate with friends and family. But the fact remains that most hearing aids have a limited lifespan, and that lifespan may range from three to seven years, depending on the type of hearing aid, where it is purchased, how it is serviced, and the individual using it.
Here are a few of the issues that may affect how long hearing aids last:
- Space-Age Technology - A hearing aid is a small, digital device that has a shell consisting of a thin, but durable layer of plastic. Inside the hearing aid shell is some of the world’s smallest digital equipment. Hearing aids allow sound to be picked up and amplified. The highly engineered digital signal processing unit inside the hearing aid has more computing power than some of the early NASA computers. All of this is configured to run on a little more than one volt of power. The tiny components of a digital hearing aid, including the case, can fail with use over time and may need repair or replacement.
- Moisture and Wax - Hearing aids are exposed to moist conditions every day for hours at a time - sweat, ear wax, dust, and skin oils can all impact a hearing aid’s lifespan. And, some people sweat or produce more ear wax than others. To extend the life of your hearing aids, when you are not wearing them, keep them in a safe, dry place. Consider using a dehumidifying unit overnight to dry out any moisture accumulated during the day inside the different chambers of your hearing aids. Your audiologist can recommend drying/storage products.
- Ongoing Care - Your hearing aids will likely last longer if you schedule routine check-ups and cleanings throughout the year. At these appointments, your audiologist can replace parts such as wax guards, earmold tubing and earpiece tips. Other parts that may need to be checked and replaced include battery doors, earmolds, tubing, wax filters, external speakers and microphone covers. Be sure to schedule routine checks in advance with your audiologist, and keep your appointments. In addition, clean your hearing aids daily as directed by your audiologist. This will help your hearing aids last longer.
- Hearing Aid Style - Traditionally, behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid styles have tended to last longer than in-the-ear (ITE) styles. This is because more of the electronic components in BTE hearing aids sit outside the ear canal, away from moisture and ear wax.
- You - Most hearing aids can be re-programmed to accommodate changes in your hearing, but if your hearing or needs change significantly, you might need more powerful or a different type of hearing aid technology. Changes in your lifestyle or health also could make a change to different hearing aids necessary.
You May Want to Update Them to Keep Up with Technology
Even if you take great care of your hearing aids and they last beyond their life expectancy, you may want to consider purchasing new ones. That’s because like computer technology, hearing aid technology is constantly evolving.
For example, what was considered top-of-the-line hearing aid technology five years ago is today’s mid-level technology, or may not even be available. The newest hearing aids on the market now have features such as Bluetooth connectivity, learn from your listening preferences, and can be controlled from your smartphone.
New hearing aid innovations are released about once every two to three years, so after five years, your hearing aids might be several generations behind the latest technology, and you might want to upgrade to newer devices. Plus, as hearing aids become older, manufacturers stop making replacement parts, making repairs more difficult.
At Associated Audiologists, we’re happy to help you maintain your hearing aids as long as possible. In fact, our patients’ hearing aids have a lifespan of five to seven years, thanks in part to the outstanding follow-up care our audiologists provide. But we also want you to be aware of the latest hearing aid features, especially as your hearing aids approach the five-year mark.