Hearing aids, if you care for them properly, can last for years. But they are only useful if they still reflect your level of hearing loss. Similar to prescription glasses, your hearing aids are programmed to your specific hearing loss, which should be checked on a regular basis. Assuming they are programmed and fitted properly, here’s how long you can expect them to last.
Do hearing aids expire?
Almost everything you buy has a shelf life. With the milk in your refrigerator, that shelf life might be several weeks. Canned goods can last anywhere from a few months to a number of years. Even electronics have a shelf life–your brand new high-def TV will probably need to be swapped out sometime in the next five years or so. It’s probably not shocking, then, that your hearing aids also have a shelf life.
In general, a set of hearing aids will last anywhere between 2-5 years, though with the technology coming out you may want to upgrade sooner. But the shelf life of your hearing aids will depend on several possible factors:
- Type: There are two basic types of hearing aids: inside-the-ear and behind-the-ear. Because they are exposed to the sweat, dirt, and debris of the ear canal, inside-the-ear models tend to have a shelf life of around five years. Behind-the-ear models typically last around 6-7 years (largely because they’re able to stay drier and cleaner).
- Care: This should come as no surprise, but the better care you take of your hearing aids, the longer they’ll last. This means ensuring your hearing aids are cleaned regularly and undergo any required regular maintenance. Time put into care will translate almost directly into added functional time.
- Batteries: Most (but not all) hearing aids currently use internal, rechargeable batteries. The type of battery or power supply your hearing aids use can dramatically influence the overall shelf life of various models.
- Construction: These days, hearing aids are constructed from all kinds of materials, from silicon to metal to nano-coated plastics, and so on. The devices are designed to be ergonomic and durable, but some materials do make trade-offs along the way. If you’re prone to dropping your hearing aids, construction quality may have an outsized impact on their longevity.
In most cases, the shelf life of your hearing aid is an estimate determined by typical usage. But neglecting to wear your hearing aids could also diminish their projected usefulness (leaving them unmaintained on a dusty shelf, for example, could very well curtail the lifespan of your hearing devices, especially if you leave the battery in place).
Hearing aids should also be checked and professionally cleaned every so often. This helps make sure they still fit properly and don’t have a build-up of wax impeding their ability to work.
Replacing hearing aids before they wear out
There may come a time when, years from now, your hearing aid performance starts to wane. And it will be time, then, to start looking for a new pair. But in some cases, you might find a new pair beneficial well before your hearing aids start to show their age. Some of those situations might include:
- Your hearing changes: If your hearing gets significantly worse (or better), the dynamics of your hearing assistance change as well. In other words, your hearing aids will no longer be calibrated to yield the best possible results. In these cases, a new hearing aid may be necessary for you to hear optimally.
- Your lifestyle changes: In some cases, your first pair of hearing aids might be purchased with a certain lifestyle in mind. But maybe your circumstances change–maybe you’ve become more active and need a pair that are waterproof, more durable, or rechargeable.
- 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.
You can see why the timetable for replacing your hearing devices is difficult to predict. How many years your hearing aids will last depends on a handful of variables–but you can generally count on that 2-5 year range.