As a rule of thumb, you should update your hearing aids every five years or if your hearing noticeably worsens. Other factors to take into account include whether you work in very damp environments or have sustained damage to your device.

There are times when it may make sense to upgrade your hearing aids outside of those events, such as if you need additional functionality for Bluetooth or telecoil (T-loop). In addition, most hearing aids require a little bit of maintenance every couple of years, along with the usual weekly/monthly battery and filter changes.

Do Hearing Aids Wear Out?

As with any electronic device, hearing aids can physically wear out. In most cases, it’s the small printed circuit board that gradually degrades over the years, but wax or moisture can infiltrate it, creating short circuits and jamming up the amplifier.

If the amplifier is separate from the hearing aid itself and is located inside the ear (a receiver-in-canal or RIC), in many cases, you can easily replace the amplifier section. It simply snaps off with a special tool and a new one is put in, usually by your audiologist or an audiology technician. This only takes a few minutes.

What About Uncomfortable Hearing Aids?

An uncomfortable hearing aid doesn’t normally mean it needs to be upgraded, even if it is one of the most common reasons for not wearing a hearing aid. If you have a behind-the-ear hearing aid with an earmold, it can shrink or slightly wear away over time, or your ears may change shape slightly, which is particularly common in children and teens. In this case, you would simply get a new earmold cast and then attach it to your hearing aid.

If you have an in-the-ear design, such as a full shell or a half shell, you generally need to upgrade the hearing aid itself if your ear shape changes. This is because the internal circuit boards are not easily transferred between designs.

Should I Change Out My Dome-Type Earbuds?

Dome-type earbuds are some of the easiest parts to change, as they are silicone pieces that usually slip over an amplifier. If you need a bit more sound, you can change from an open dome to a closed dome or a power dome. Again, this is usually done in conjunction with your audiologist, who can make suggestions regarding the best hearing aid for your needs. However, open domes tend to sound less bassy, and power domes tend to make you feel a bit more plugged up.

Changing out the domes can provide a major boost to your hearing without having to upgrade your hearing aid, especially with careful adjustment of your hearing aids to match your hearing pattern.