“If there are changes in your hearing, you may not need new hearing aids,” says audiologist Bria Collins, associate director of professional practice in audiology at American Speech-Language-Hearing. Association. “On the contrary, you may need to reprogram your new hearing thresholds to improve your everyday communication.”
2. Your health has changed.
Features that didn’t bother you when you bought your existing pair may now be a hassle. Let’s say, for example, that you have developed arthritis in your hands. Smaller hearing aids, such as completely in-canal styles, can be difficult to maneuver if you have dexterity issues. Behind-the-ear and in-the-ear hearing aids may be easier to use; Even better, rechargeable hearing aids eliminate the hassle of changing batteries, suggests Collins.
“Hearing aids that you can wear for an extended period of time – meaning you return to your audiologist on a schedule to have the hearing aids replaced inside your ear canals – would be a good option for people with low vision. and/or reduced dexterity,” she says. “They wouldn’t have to fiddle with the hearing aids at all.”
Another health condition that may warrant a change is Ménière’s disease, an inner ear disorder that causes dizziness, ringing in the ears, and a feeling of fullness in the ear, in addition to hearing loss. People with fluctuating hearing loss, such as those with Meniere’s, need “the ability to manually adjust their hearing aids to specific programs set by their audiologist to accommodate hearing changes that may occur day-to-day,” says Collins.
3. Your hearing aids don’t work as well as they used to.
Through normal wear and tear, as well as damage from earwax and moisture, the average lifespan of a set of hearing aids is around five years. Even if you’re willing to make do with hearing aids that don’t work as well as they once did, there’s this to consider: “Over time, parts need to be replaced — for example, microphones and The insides of hearing aids are so small and susceptible to wax and moisture, it’s important to have these parts professionally cleaned by an audiologist or replaced regularly,” says Collins. But “some hearing aid manufacturers will not offer repair services if a device is more than five years old, due to availability or parts and circuitry.”
4. Technology has improved.
Hearing aids aren’t like smartphones – there isn’t a new model every year that makes what you have virtually obsolete. But technology is constantly changing, and experts say you might want a pair with new features. “There are noticeable technological advances every three to five years, primarily in processing speed and advances in digital signal processing and noise reduction,” Collins says.
For example, the way hearing aids deal with background noise and attempt to separate speech from noise is constantly improving. “Some hearing aids now have built-in sensors for drops and others work like tinnitus masks,” says Dhar.
5. Your lifestyle has changed.
Has your Zoom-centric lifestyle continued, even as the pandemic has loosened its grip on how you connect with others? If so, some hearing aids are Bluetooth-enabled, allowing you to stream sound directly to your hearing aids from your computer or tablet. Or maybe you’ve started spending more time outdoors hiking, fishing, or biking since you bought your last pair of hearing aids. If so, you might want to upgrade to a set designed to suppress wind noise.
Or maybe you’ve upgraded the rest of your technology and your hearing aids are falling behind. “A change in the use of other electronic devices can open the door to greater connectivity with hearing aids and justify a switch,” says Dhar. “For example, modern hearing aids can be connected directly to a phone and allow music streaming.”
Kimberly Goad is a New York-based journalist who has covered health for some of the nation’s leading mainstream publications. His work has appeared in Women’s Health, Men’s Health and Reader’s Digest.