When selecting hearing aids, the type of battery is an important consideration. There are two main types: Rechargeable and disposable. They both have their pros and cons, depending on your type of hearing loss, lifestyle needs and personal preferences. Below, we look at both types, and how to take care of either kind of hearing aid battery.
Rechargeable vs. disposable hearing aid batteries
In the past, all hearing aids were powered by batteries that had to be replaced every few days to weeks. But more and more, hearing aids are available with rechargeable batteries. Rechargeable hearing aids are usually worn behind the ear, and are best-suited for people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss.
Why would I want rechargeable hearing aids?
To help you decide, here are some common advantages and disadvantages of rechargeable models:
How to charge them
It varies by model, but most rechargeable hearing aids can be charged typically with four simple steps:
How do I know when my rechargeable hearing aid batteries are low?
With most modern hearing aids, the hearing aid will alert you when the hearing aids are low – either by a beep or sound signifying low battery and the need to charge. (This beep is amplified by the hearing aids so you can hear it.)
If your hearing aids come with an accompanying smartphone app, you can also monitor your battery usage and levels via the app (this is the case regardless of battery type). This can help you plan and know what to expect over time.
How often will they need charging?
Most rechargeable hearing aids require a short time period of only about 3 to 4 hours of charging to provide a full charge. If you forget to charge them, typically a quick 30-minute charging period will provide another six hours of use. It’s important to remember that hearing aid battery performance varies depending on the level of technology (related to your hearing loss), lifestyle, and streaming behaviour.
Rechargeable hearing aids can usually provide up to a full day of use with 1 about 4 hours of streaming respectively, on a full charge.
Tips for hearing aids with rechargeable batteries:
If you’re interested in hearing aids with rechargeable batteries, be sure to ask your hearing professional about which ones may be right for you.
Disposable hearing aid batteries
Many modern hearing aids use one of four common sizes of disposable, button cell, zinc-air batteries (10, 312, 13 and 675). Older hearing aids often used mercury battery cells, but these cells have become banned in most countries today, as they are poisonous and environmentally unfriendly.
Zinc-air batteries “turn on” when oxygen in the air interacts with the zinc in the battery and “air-activates” it. Zinc-air batteries are labelled with a manufacturer colour coded sticker. The expiration date is labelled on the battery package and informs you that the battery is good until this date, as long as the sticker on the battery is not removed.
Hearing aid battery sizes
Hearing aid batteries come in different sizes, indicated by the colour on the sticker, for different hearing aid power needs. Essentially, the larger and more powerful the hearing aid, the larger the battery required.
Modern hearing aid zinc-air batteries are typically referred to by their number or, most notably, the colour of their packaging.
How long will my hearing aid batteries last?
Battery life is variable based on the power of your hearing aids and hours of wear each day. Assuming you wear your hearing aids 16 hours each day, the batteries will last anywhere between 3 and 22 days. Because this is a large range, consult your hearing care professional who can tell you more specifically what to expect from your hearing aid battery life based on your devices.
A general guideline for how long a battery should last for someone who uses their hearing aids every day is as follows:
Hearing aids with added features such as wireless capability or streaming have a direct influence on the running time of the hearing aid battery. Therefore, battery running times may also vary depending on the activity of these additional features.
Changing my hearing aid battery
Some hearing aids provide an audible notification such as a short beeping sound once they are low and ready to be changed. Another way to know if your battery should be changed is if the sound becomes distorted or you need to turn up the volume more than usual. Be sure to switch the batteries immediately when this occurs to ensure you are getting the most power from your hearing aids.
Once you get used to wearing your hearing aids, you will find you depend on them to get through each day, hearing and communicating with ease. To avoid disruptions due to expired hearing aid batteries, get in the habit of carrying extra batteries with you on the go. You can safely store them in the carrying case or pouch that accompanies your hearing aids.
To use a zinc-air battery remove the sticker from the flat and shiny positive side of the battery. Once the battery is exposed to air, the life of the battery has started. Wait at least two minutes after removing the sticker to fully activate the battery before placing it in the hearing device. Zinc-air batteries cannot be re-activated by replacing the sticker.
Storing hearing aid batteries
Zinc-air batteries have a long shelf life and can be stored for up to 3 years in a dry environment at room temperature, as long as the sticker is not removed. Always refer to the expiration date on your battery package. Be sure not to store your hearing aid batteries in heat or humid environments, such as a hot car on a summer day, as this can shorten the longevity of your battery power. Finally, avoid storing hearing aid batteries in the refrigerator, as cold temperatures do not slow down the expiration period.
Batteries in contact with metal objects such as keys or coins can cause a hearing aid battery to short-circuit, therefore it is recommended to never carry individual batteries loose in a pocket, wallet or handbag. Safely store your batteries in the hearing aid accessory case, provided by your hearing clinic or keep them in the original package until when needed.
Hearing aid battery care tips:
If you are experiencing shortened battery life, these tips can help.
If you are still experiencing lower than expected battery life, there may be an issue with your hearing device. In this case, consult your hearing aids’ user manual or contact your hearing healthcare professional to ensure everything is working properly.
Purchasing hearing aid batteries
Hearing aid batteries can be purchased through your local hearing aid clinic, but they are also typically available at local pharmacies, grocery or electronic retail stores. Should you choose to purchase batteries through your hearing healthcare provider, some offer the additional bonus of a convenient “battery club.”
Battery clubs usually offer discounted or free batteries as part of a warranty package for a subscribed time period. Your battery club membership will also be able to provide you with information on the size of your battery for your specific device on your next visit, without the hassle of you having to remember to bring your used battery package for reference. Be sure to ask your hearing healthcare provider for more details about what they offer.
Safe disposal of hearing aid batteries
Most hearing clinics provide a battery disposal service where you can drop off your used batteries and they can be safely recycled for you.
This is not only convenient for you to do at your next visit into your hearing clinic, but you are also supporting a cleaner and safer method in reducing harmful effects to the environment.
Hearing aid batteries are highly toxic to people and pets, if ingested. Always be careful about how you dispose of hearing aid batteries, and do not leave them where kids and pets can find them.
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