Hearing aids are complex devices with a variety of features that increase one’s ability to hear and enhances the listening experience. Even though they are these sophisticated and technologically advanced instruments, they do have a life-span. Over time, hearing aids are naturally impacted by a variety of factors including: wear and tear, moisture, ear wax etc. Typically, hearing aids effectively last for 5 to 7 years. You most likely use your hearing aids daily, throughout the day and know very well how they should work. If you notice any changes or begin to wonder when you should update your hearing aids, it can be helpful to think about the following:
Hearing Aids Are Less Effective
Hearing aids consist of three main parts: microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The microphone receives sound from the environment and translates them into electrical signals that the amplifier strengthens and sends to the ears through the speaker. Your hearing aids may have additional features that connect them to your phone, Bluetooth, and other devices. These complex technologies require regular maintenance. Hearing aids should be cleaned regularly (moisture, humidity, earwax need to be consistently removed) and placed in a dry location when not being used.
Over time, exposure to these elements along with regular wear and tear impact the effectiveness of hearing aids. Occasional repairs are common but if your hearing aids are consistently malfunctioning, this could be a sign that it is time for a replacement. Other signs include: buzzing, ringing, or whistling sounds; batteries need to be charged frequently, and overall sound quality is not as good. You’ve experienced your hearing aids for a long time and know best what they are like, so you likely can quickly notice when they simply are not working as well!
Hearing Needs Have Changed
Your sense of hearing can also change over time. When your hearing is impaired, there is a spectrum of degree of hearing loss – mild, moderate, severe etc. Where you are on this spectrum can change due to factors such as increased environmental exposure to loud noise, the aging process, and other medical conditions you are experiencing (diabetes, hypertension, stroke etc.).
If you notice that your hearing aids seem to be working differently than normal, it is a good idea to have your hearing assessed. You are already familiar with hearing tests and know that they are relatively quick and noninvasive. Having your hearing tested annually is recommended so that your current hearing abilities are established. This is critical to ensure that your hearing aids are meeting your changing hearing needs.
Your lifestyle is part of the information used to identify the most suitable hearing aids for you. You may recall discussing various aspects of your lifestyle with a hearing healthcare specialist to determine what type of hearing aids would work best. This includes your job (do you work in an office, on construction sites, from home?), physical activities you participate in, frequency of phone use, type of climate you live in etc. All of these factors are important when identifying hearing aids that will serve you in all of the settings you navigate.
If your lifestyle has changed recently – you have moved, now have a new job, started swimming, etc. you may want to consider new hearing aids that will best support your hearing in these new environments.
Interested in the Latest Technology
Like most electronic devices, advancing technology continues to innovate hearing aids. Now more than ever there is an array of options that range widely in styles, features, and technologies. New hearing aid models continue to be released with improved processing systems and sound capabilities. There is so much technology offered: wireless connectivity, noise cancellation, water resistance and much, much more. So maybe you want the latest technology to enhance your listening experience!
Hearing aids are such a critical investment that impacts your daily life. Be sure to consult with a hearing healthcare specialist about any changes you have experienced with your hearing health and your hearing needs. It is important that you know if your hearing impairment has changed and what options are available to best meet your specific hearing needs!