If you care for them, hearing aids can keep working for years. But they are only helpful if they still reflect your degree of hearing loss. Your hearing aids are dialed into your particular level of hearing loss and comparable to prescription glasses, should be upgraded if your condition gets worse. Assuming they are fitted and programmed correctly, here’s how long you can expect them to last.
Do Hearing Aids Expire?
Nearly everything you purchase has a shelf life. With the milk in your refrigerator, that shelf life may be several weeks. Several months to several years is the shelf life of canned products. Even electronics have a shelf life, your brand new high-def TV will most likely need to be swapped out some time within the next five years or so. So learning that your hearing aids have a shelf life is probably not very shocking.
2 to 5 years is generally the shelf life for a pair of hearing aids, although you might want to replace them sooner with the new technology emerging. But the shelf life of your hearing aids will depend on a number of possible factors:
- Construction: Nowadays, hearing aids are made from all kinds of materials, from metal to silicon to nano-coated plastics, and so on. The devices are created to be ergonomic and durable, but some materials do experience wear-and-tear along the way. Despite quality construction, if you’re prone to dropping your hearing aids, their longevity will be impacted.
- Type: There are two basic types of hearing aids: inside-the-ear and behind-the-ear. Five years or so will be the expected shelf life of inside-the-ear model hearing aids due to exposure to debris, sweat, and dirt of the ear canal. Because they are able to remain dryer and cleaner, behind the ear models usually last 6-7 years.
- Care: It shouldn’t be surprising to know that if you care for your hearing aids, they will last longer. Doing regular required maintenance and cleaning is vital. Time put into proper care will translate almost directly into added functional time.
- Batteries: Internal, rechargeable batteries are standard with most hearing aids in current use. The shelf life of your hearing aid is dramatically impacted by the type of batteries they use.
Generally, the typical usage of your hearing aid determines the actual shelf life. But the potential life expectancy of your hearing aids is diminished if they’re not used on a regular basis (leaving your hearing aids neglected on a shelf and unmaintained can also diminish the lifespan of your hearing aids).
And every so often, hearing aids should be examined and cleaned professionally. This helps make sure that there is no wax buildup and that they still fit properly.
It’s a Good Idea to Replace Your Hearing Aids Before They Wear Down
There could come a time when, years from now, your hearing aid functionality begins to decline. Then you will need to look for a new set. But in certain situations, you might find a new pair beneficial long before your hearing aids start to show their age. Some of those scenarios could include:
- Technology changes: Every year, hearing aid manufacturers introduce innovative new technologies that make hearing aids more useful in novel ways. If one of these cutting edge technologies looks like it’s going to help you significantly, it could be worth investing in a new pair of devices sooner rather than later.
- Changes in your hearing: If your hearing gets considerably worse (or better), the characteristics of your hearing assistance change too. In other words, your hearing aids will no longer be adjusted to yield the best possible benefits. If you want an optimal level of hearing, new hearing aids may be required.
- Changes in lifestyle: In some cases, your first set of hearing aids might be purchased with a certain lifestyle in mind. But perhaps your circumstances change, maybe you’ve become more physically active and you need a pair that are waterproof, more heavy-duty, or rechargeable.
You can understand why the timetable for updating your hearing devices is difficult to estimate. Usually, that 2-5 year range is fairly accurate dependant upon these few factors.