Man playing basketball wonders whether he needs new hearing aids to keep up with his active lifestyle.

If you care for them, hearing aids can keep working for years. But they are only useful if they still reflect your degree of hearing loss. As with prescription glasses, your hearing aids are programmed to your particular hearing loss, which should be checked on a regular basis. Here’s how long you can expect your hearing aids to last assuming they are programed and fitted correctly.

Do Hearing Aids Expire?

There’s a shelf life for pretty any product. With the milk in your refrigerator, that shelf life might be several weeks. Several months to several years is the shelf life of canned goods. Even electronic devices have a shelf life, your brand new high-def TV will probably have to be upgraded some time within the next five years or so. It’s probably not shocking, then, that your hearing aids also have a shelf life.

In general, a pair of hearing aids will last anywhere between 2-5 years, although with the technology coming out you may want to replace them sooner. But the shelf life of your hearing aids will depend on a number of 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 commonly have a shelf life of about five years. Behind-the-ear models usually last around 6-7 years (largely because they’re able to stay drier and cleaner).
  • Construction: These days, hearing aids are made out of many types 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. If you’re prone to dropping your hearing aids, their longevity will be impacted regardless of quality construction.
  • Batteries: The majority of (but not all) hearing aids presently use rechargeable, internal batteries. The type of battery or power supply your hearing aids use can significantly impact the overall shelf life of various models.
  • Care: It shouldn’t surprise you to find out that if you care for your hearing aids, they will last longer. Doing regular required upkeep and cleaning is vital. You will get added operational time out of your hearing aid in almost direct proportion to the time you put into care.

Usually, the typical usage of your hearing aid determines the actual shelf life. But the potential longevity of your hearing aids is diminished if they’re not worn on a regular basis (leaving your hearing aids neglected on a shelf and unmaintained can also diminish the lifespan of your hearing aids).

Hearing aids should also be inspected and professionally cleaned every now and then. This helps make sure that there is no wax buildup and that they still fit correctly.

Replacing Hearing Aids Before They Wear Down

Years from now there might come a time when the performance of your hearing aids begins to diminish. And it will be time, then, to begin looking around for a new set. But in some situations, you might find that a new pair will be practical well before your hearing aids start to show wear and tear. Some of those situations could include:

  • Your hearing fluctuates: If your hearing gets significantly worse (or better), the characteristics of your hearing assistance change as well. Your hearing aids might no longer be calibrated to effectively treat your hearing problem. If you want an optimal level of hearing, new hearing aids might be required.
  • Your lifestyle changes: In many instances, your first set of hearing aids may be purchased with a particular lifestyle in mind. But perhaps your conditions change, maybe you’ve become more active and need a set that are waterproof, more rugged, 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 plan for replacing your hearing aid is difficult to predict. Usually, that 2-5 year range is fairly accurate dependant upon these few factors.

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