How do you know? Is there a ‘cut and dry’ formula that should be used as to when you should replace your hearing aid? The answer is No. There are many factors that determine the life of your hearing aids.
The first item is your hearing. When you are fit with a hearing instrument, it is set to match your specific prescription that is necessary to correct your hearing properly. When the instrument was selected, it should have been ordered so that if your hearing shifts, there is some reserve gain to allow for the natural decline in hearing levels. While your hearing care provider can allow for some shift in hearing, they cannot leave the door wide open. If an instrument has too much power and exceeds certain thresholds, it can actually damage your hearing. This is why it is necessary to have a competent hearing health care provider taking care of your hearing needs. Hence, if your hearing doesn’t shift more than 5-10 decibels across the board you may get from 4-10 years from your hearing instrument. If your hearing shifts due to medicines, virus, accidents, strokes, cancer, infections or even unknown reasons, then your hearing instrument may need to be replaced sooner. If your hearing drops out of the capabilities of the amplification that you need, then you are basically plugging up your ears. Sound is pressure so the hearing instrument has to deliver enough sound pressure into the ear to stimulate the nerves. If there is not enough power in the hearing instrument, you are only going to stimulate some of the lower pitched sounds. These frequencies give some volume and a lot of background noise. You need the high frequencies also to actually understand the words. Approximately 80% of your speech understanding comes from high frequencies.
If your hearing aids are not strong enough then you will not understand well, especially if you are in background noise. Technology levels also determine how long your hearing instruments may last. The more advanced the technology the longer it will last. The reason for this is due to the fact that top or premium instruments are the building blocks for the next thing coming out. With Starkey, if you are using their premium technology, when they release something new, they send software and firmware updates to existing premium level instruments. These updates help to provide better speech understanding and noise control. Also, if you are using premium technology, these instruments have broader bandwidth, more processors for noise, and greater programming flexibility. Thus, your hearing can also make bigger shifts and the instrument can still be reprogrammed to fit you properly. New technology that control background noise better should be explored.
Your health is another reason you may need to get new hearing instruments. Patients may develop dexterity problems, thus making a different style easier to put in or change batteries. The onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s may produce a need for a more advanced hearing instrument that can do “more” adjustments for the patient automatically. The new Livio AI hearing aids help to measure brain and body health. As you age, your speech understanding capabilities could get worse. You have more and more difficulties carrying on a conversation. Perhaps you have lost a spouse or loved one after a long illness and you try to get back into socializing. Therefore, hearing instruments are beneficial for these types of situations.
The simple answer to how long a hearing aid should last is, as long as you are hearing properly. Not just hearing but understanding speech. Moreover, if your hearing has dropped out of the capabilities of the instrument, then it should be replaced. It is important to take care of your health. A vital part of your health and happiness is your brain. To keep your brain healthy you must PROPERLY stimulate the auditory part of your brain. If you have noticed increased difficulty in hearing, understanding, or frustration with conversation and noise; then it is time for a hearing evaluation and an assessment of your communication needs. Be proactive with your health! To Hear Better Is To Live Better!