Getting the Most Out of Your Hearing Aid Batteries

Hearing Aid Batteries
Zinc-air-battery-types by Marc Andressen is licensed under Attribution CC 2.0

You could make a strong case that the most critical component of your hearing aid is the battery: without it, nothing else works, and if it fails, your hearing fails with it. In this short guide, we’ll present to you everything you need to know about hearing aid batteries so that you can get the maximum benefit out of your hearing aids.

How Hearing Aid Batteries Work

Hearing aids take a unique kind of battery called zinc-air batteries. Each battery has a sticker that covers small holes on the top of the battery. Once the sticker is removed, air enters the battery through the holes, resulting in a chemical reaction that activates the zinc and makes the battery live. When the battery is live, it starts discharging power and reapplying the sticker will have no influence in conserving its life.

Hearing Aid Battery Types

Zinc-air hearing aid batteries come in four standardized sizes, marked with standardized number and color codes. The four sizes, from largest to smallest, are:

  • 675-blue
  • 13-orange
  • 312-brown
  • 10-yellow

Each hearing aid uses only one of the sizes, and your hearing specialist will inform you which size you will be needing. Keep in mind that the numbers and colors above are manufacturer independent, but that manufacturers sometimes add additional letters or numbers to its packaging.

Hearing Aid Battery Life

Hearing aid battery life is reliant on a number of factors. Many patients get up to one week of life out of a battery if they use the hearing aid for 12 or more hours a day, but this will vary depending on:

  • The size of the battery – bigger batteries have a longer life.
  • The level of hearing loss – More severe hearing loss calls for more power.
  • Hearing aid features – wireless functionality, noise reduction programs, and multi-channel processing, for example, demand more power to operate.
  • Temperature – hot and cold temperatures can decrease battery life.

Your hearing specialist will review all of this with you, and can help you find the proper balance between hearing aid capability and battery life.

How to Increase the Life of Your Hearing Aid Batteries

You can effortlessly prolong the life of your hearing aid batteries with one simple trick. As soon as you remove the sticker to activate the battery, wait 5-7 minutes before inserting the battery into your hearing aids. By removing the sticker and laying the battery flat side up for a few minutes, air is able to properly activate the battery before you start using it, which lengthens its life.

A couple of other tips:

  • Keep the batteries away from coins, keys, or other metal objects that could short the battery.
  • When the hearing aid isn’t being used, turn it off and store it with the battery door open. If you don’t plan on using your hearing aids for an extended period of time, remove the batteries completely.
  • Unopened batteries can last for years; still, fresher batteries are preferred because each year that goes by decreases the life of the battery.
  • Store your batteries at room temperature. This rule is so crucial that the next section is dedicated to the topic.

How to Store Your Hearing Aid Batteries

There’s a dangerous myth out there suggesting that storing your batteries in the refrigerator extends their life. This is not only false; it produces the opposite result!

The reasoning behind storing your batteries in the refrigerator is that the cold temperature will slow down the discharge of power. While this may be technically true, the amount of power you will save will be negligible, and the undesirable effects of moisture will produce far greater negative consequences.

Storing zinc-air batteries in a cold environment allows micro condensation to form in an on the battery, resulting in corrosion and a high risk of premature failure. Therefore, for ideal performance, simply keep your batteries away from extreme hot or cold temperatures and store at room temperature.

Maintaining Your Hearing Aid Battery Supply

Once you figure out how long your batteries last, on average, you’ll want to keep a month’s supply. If your batteries last 1 week, and you use 2 batteries (1 for each hearing aid), then you’ll end up using about 8 per month. Simply set 8 as your reorder level, and once you consume your stock down to 8, order another pack. Alternatively, you may want to look into the price savings linked with bulk buys and maintain a supply that lasts a bit longer than one month. If you’re not certain, we are more than happy to help you put together a strategy and will handle all of your hearing aid battery needs. Just give us a call!

Have any other questions? Talk to one of our hearing specialists today!

How Hearing Aids are Programmed

Programming is an important component of your hearing device, no matter what your degree of hearing loss. How your hearing aid is programmed depends on your degree of hearing loss, comfort level and other personal considerations. You can’t simply purchase a set of hearing aids from a retailer without having them programmed to your specification. Just like glasses without the lenses, a hearing aid won’t do you any good without programming by a certified audiologist. This is crucial because your hearing aid needs to conform to your ears and your existing hearing capabilities.

What Factors can be Adjusted?

An audiologist is skilled in adjusting elements such as volume, frequency, intensity levels, compression ratios, max power output, noise reduction, microphone parameters and the like. Many factors are involved when programming a hearing aid. Depending on the model type you have, along with the software contained in it. Therefore, if one setting is too sensitive in regards to noise, it can be changed to accommodate the user’s comfort level. Many can be adjusted to filter out certain levels of background noise as well.

Processing Time

You may have to go back a couple of times to get your hearing aid adjusted. Did you know that the brain has to take time to adjust to the new sounds emitted by the device, which can only be determined over time when exposed to different environments? Most people come back to their doctor with suggestions on how the device could work better or complaints about what the device can’t do for them. Most hearing aids manufactured today are digital in nature, as opposed to older devices that could be adjusted with a simple screwdriver. Back then, you got what you got – there weren’t too many adjustments available. Fast forward to today and hundreds of elements can be fine tuned within digital hearing aids to accommodate the hearing needs of an individual. Programming takes place as a result of a complete hearing evaluation with the user on his or her subjective preferences. This trouble shooting approach is what’s so great about digital hearing aids.

Programming Hearing Aids

During the actual programming process, many doctors use a surround sound system to simulate real noise from the outside world and make adjustments based on real-time feedback. This surround sound system can simulate crowd noises to determine how they will go about noise reduction. This is a helpful feature because so many people with hearing aids say they work great when all is quiet but as soon as they are in a restaurant, or even at a train station, they have to work hard to compete with all that background noise. Through real ear measurements, visual mapping and environmental simulations, a hearing aid can be customized to the individual user. Real-ear probe microphones can detect how much sound is reaching the eardrum so the doctor can be the most accurate in his programming. Visible speech mapping (VSM) tells the doctor how various sounds of speech hit the eardrum. This is a great alternative to traditional measurements because today’s hearing aids can now help with noise reduction and feedback reduction algorithms. The process of programming a hearing aid requires the proper hardware, software and cables to connect to the hearing aid. Many people learn to program their own hearing aids but the equipment can get expensive and the level of accuracy goes down. However, a word of caution: have a qualified audiologist perform this important task for the ultimate in hearing health.

Should You Replace a Damaged Hearing Aid or is it Better to Repair It?

One of the most common questions we are asked is, “My old hearing aid is damaged or is not performing the same way it used to – do you think I should purchase a new one, or have it repaired?” Provided with only that amount of information, we have to answer honestly, “It depends.” The matter of whether to replace or repair depends on many factors, and the “ideal answer” is as individual as the people asking the question.

An important thing to consider is that all hearing aids – irrespective of how expensive they were or how well they were built – will at times begin to function less well, or fail. Why is that the case? Mostly because of ongoing use in an inhospitable environment filled with ear wax and moisture. Both ear wax and moisture are natural, but your hearing aids don’t like either of them. Water can harm the tiny electronics while ear wax can generally ‘gum up’ the interior. In addition, there is always the potential for breakage from an accident or dropping the aids, and the inner tubing and other parts inevitably degrade over time, so after some years you can expect your aids needing replacement or repair.

So how do you choose between replace and repair? The most important consideration really is you, and whether you like your current hearing aids. If you like them and are familiar with the sound that they produce or really like the fit, repair could be the better option for you.

An additional factor to consider, obviously, is cost – whereas a new pair of hearing aids may cost thousands of dollars, your current aids may cost only a couple of hundred dollars to fix. The part we can’t answer in this article is the impact of insurance. A few insurance policies cover hearing aid replacements, but not repairs or have varying policies on partial or full coverage.

Another question that comes up if you decide to have your hearing aids repaired is, “Do I return them to the store where I purchased them, or send them to a repair laboratory myself?” While online advertisers will try portray your neighborhood audiologist as just a middle-man, that isn’t true. There are several advantages to staying nearby. First off all, they can determine if repairs are in fact needed. Second, they may be able to get the repairs done on-site decreasing the length of time you do not have your hearing aid. For hearing aids that do require laboratory or manufacturer repairs, the practice will manage all the communications and paperwork for you. Don’t presume the price will be higher for these value-added services, because audiologists work with repair labs in larger volumes.

If you choose to replace your aids, more choices are open to you. Make an effort to understand the technological improvements since the last time you bought and be open to improved designs. More recent hearing aid styles may have capabilities that interest to you, and can be finely adjusted to suit your individual hearing needs. The answer to this “repair or replace” question is still up to you, but we hope that the information we have offered will help you.

What Size of Battery Does My Hearing Aid Require?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to the question “What kind of battery does my hearing aid need?” because hearing aid models and the batteries that power them common in many varieties. The simplest scenario to deal with is if you currently own a hearing aid; if that’s the case, read the owner’s manual that was included with the device or get in touch with the professionals who fit it for you to verify the correct battery type. In the event that you don’t use a hearing aid yet and are looking to decide which type and model is best for you, do a little research to help you decide. Hearing aid batteries vary greatly in price, and in battery life, so your selection of hearing aid can affect the amount of money you spend over time to use it.

To make things easier for consumers, hearing aid producers and those who make the batteries for them have developed a standardized color coding system to make them easier to find. No matter who the maker is, hearing aid batteries of a specific type and size will always have the identical color code on their packages.

The primary battery sizes and types to be aware of are:

Size 13 / Orange – Hearing aid batteries with a color code of orange are Size 13, and fit Behind-the-Ear (BTE) and In-the-Ear (ITE) types of hearing aids; their battery life is normally around 240 hours.

Size 312 / Brown – A brown color code indicates a Size 312 battery, generally used in In-The-Ear (ITE) and In-The-Canal (ITC) styles of hearing aids; because of their smaller size they generally have battery life of 175 hours.

Size 10 / Yellow – Yellow indicates Size 10 batteries. Size 10 are the smallest and most abundant type of hearing aid battery with a typical battery life of 80 hours. This size of battery is commonplace in Completely-In-Canal (CIC) and In-The-Canal (ITC) hearing aids.

Size 675 / Blue – The blue color code always identifies Size 675 batteries, which are often used in cochlear implants and larger Behind-The-Ear (BTE) style hearing aids; the 675 batteries have an average life of 300 hours.

These are the most popular types and sizes of hearing aid batteries, but there are hearing aids that call for alternative ones. If yours need one of these alternate types, most merchants that sell batteries can order them for you.

Be sure to read your owner’s manual carefully before purchasing bulk quantities of hearing aid batteries. If your unit uses rechargeable batteries, you will only need disposable batteries for emergencies. Furthermore, remember to always store your hearing aid batteries at room temperature in their sealed packages to make sure that they keep their full charge.

Should You Repair Your Old Hearing Aid or Replace It?

One of the most common questions we hear is, “My hearing aid is damaged or is not functioning the same way it used to – do you think I should replace it and buy a new one, or have it fixed?” Provided with only that much information, we have to answer truthfully, “That depends.” It is really an individual choice, and the “correct answer” is as individual as the individuals who ask it.

It is worthwhile to state upfront, that all hearing aids, irrespective of their original price or quality, can be expected to break down at some point. Why? Primarily due to sustained use in an inhospitable environment containing moisture and ear wax. Ear wax is normal and necessary because it safeguards the sensitive lining of the outer ear, but it can be hard on hearing aids; water that is left in the ears after showering or swimming can be even harder on them. Additionally, there is always the chance of breakage from an accident or dropping the hearing aids, and the inner tubing and other parts inevitably wear out with time, so after several years you can count on your aids needing repair or replacement.

Likely the major thing you should consider when making the “repair or replace” decision is how you feel about your current hearing aids – do you like them, and the sound they deliver? If you like them and are familiar with the sound that they generate or really like the fit, repair could be the better option for you.

One more consideration, of course, is cost – brand new hearing aids might cost thousands of dollars, but fixing your present aids may cost only a couple of hundred dollars. The part we can’t answer in this article is the influence of insurance. A few insurance policies cover replacements, but not repairs or have different policies on full or partial coverage.

If you decide to pursue a repair, the next logical question is “Should I take them back to where I purchased them?”Although you could choose to deal with a remote repair laboratory directly, your local audiologist is a marvelous resource. To begin with, they can establish if repairs are in fact necessary. Second, they may be able to get the repairs done on-site decreasing the amount of time you do not have your hearing aid. For hearing aid repairs that cannot be completed locally, your hearing professional will take care of the shipping, paperwork and lab directions for you. Because they work in volume with suppliers, their prices may be the same or better than you could get yourself.

Far more options are open to those who choose to replace their existing hearing aids. It is advisable to be open-minded about new designs and technologies understanding that anything different takes some getting used to. Newer hearing aids are more compact and offer superior programability to achieve the sound quality you want. So the choice whether to “replace or repair” is still yours to make, but we hope this information will assist you.

In Truth, What is a Normal Life for Hearing Aid Batteries Under Real-Life Conditions

Even though the battery life for hearing aids might seem a straightforward question to answer, in truth it varies according to a variety of factors. Just how long a battery lasts is dependent upon who manufactured it, and may even vary between different hearing aid models from the exact same manufacturer. How you use your hearing aid will also affect battery life; the more hours a day yours is turned on, the more often you will use up batteries.

Additionally, there are differences in battery life across battery manufacturers, and the exact same manufacturer may offer different lines of batteries, some that last for a longer period of time than others. Battery life also hinges on battery type; for example some varieties are only being drained when they are inside a hearing aid that is switched on, and other varieties (such as, zinc-air batteries) start losing stored energy as soon as you take away the adhesive strip on the bottom of the battery and they’re in contact with oxygen, whether the hearing aid is on or not.

If you are in the market for a new hearing aid, you may wish to do some research in advance to see which have the best ratings for battery life, because that could influence your decision about which type or which model of hearing aid to purchase. In the same way, a little time invested in research may help you uncover better batteries for your existing hearing aids. To make things somewhat easier for you, hearing aid batteries are available in 4 common sizes, each of which is marked with a specific color code, which is always the same no matter who the manufacturer is. The following list of battery life is an approximation, of course, but it may give you a general idea of how long hearing aid batteries of each size should last:

  • 80 hours – #10 – Yellow
  • 175 hours – #312 – Brown
  • 240 hours – #13 – Orange
  • 300 hours – #675 – Blue

To ensure the longest life for your batteries when they’re in the hearing aid, turn the hearing aid off when you are not wearing it. And to make sure batteries you’ve already bought but have not used yet stay fresh and retain their power as long as possible, store them indoors in their original unopened packages, and at room temperature.

Hearing Aid Accessories 101

Many hearing aid buyers are curious about add-ons and options, so in this article we provide some of our suggestions. Certain accessories work only with a particular hearing aid model, but these broad recommendations are applicable to nearly every hearing aid user.

First of all, stock up on batteries. These aren’t exactly an accessory, but take any opportunity you can to buy them in bulk or at a discount since you will need them. Expect that disposable batteries will need to be replaced every 5 to 14 days.

A dehumidifier is optional, but a very good idea. The electronics in hearing aids are very susceptible to damage from moisture. To use it, you remove your hearing aids at night before you go to sleep and leave them in the dehumidifier overnight, while you’re not wearing them. Cleaning kits are also a sensible investment, as are ear wax filters to keep ear wax away from the unit, because the cleaner you keep your aids, the longer they’ll provide you with trouble-free service.

There are various Bluetooth extensions for specific hearing aids that will extend their capabilities. Many digital hearing aids support the Bluetooth wireless connection standard, which means that they can be configured to stream sound directly from many mobile phones, audio players such as iPods, and televisions. Having a Bluetooth connection to these devices means that you don’t have to sit near them or turn the sound up to enjoy them.

Another way of doing this if you have an analog hearing aid is to use an FM system, which is basically a remote microphone/transmitter that you can place near the TV or stereo and a remote receiver/amplifier that you place closer to your hearing aid. These low-cost FM systems can be an advantage in noisy environments or those shared with other people; you can hear conversations spoken in a normal tone of voice near you while also hearing music or the TV played from much further away.

There are constantly new hearing aid accessories being introduced. If you have questions about these or any others, just ask. Smart selection of accessories goes a long way toward maintaining and enjoying your aid.

A Further Life for Your Old Hearing Aids

Our practice is often asked about how to deal with unwanted, used hearing aids. This question arises more than you may expect for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the old aid belonged to you and you have upgraded to a newer model. Or perhaps it belonged to a family member or friend that no longer needs it.

One choice that does not occur to many people is to hang on to the old one so you can use it as a backup if something happens to your new aid or if it requires servicing.

If it is a newer model and in good working condition, you may be able to sell the used hearing aid on a website such as eBay or Craigslist. Before you do this, make sure it is legal in your area to resell hearing aids; there are many states in which it is not. If you decide to try to sell it, be sure to list in your ad all the relevant information a buyer would want to know: the manufacturer and model number, the unit’s age and condition, warranty type, the type of battery it takes, and your reason for selling it. Also, don’t expect to get nearly as much money as you paid for it; look for ads for similar hearing aids, and keep yours within the same range.

An excellent alternate option is to give your used hearing aid to someone who needs it. There are organizations that specialize in collecting used hearing aids and redistributing them to people who need one, but cannot afford them. In the United States, organizations that specialize in the charity collection and redistribution of hearing aids include the Lions Clubs International, Hear Now, and Sertoma. Worldwide Hearing is an international organization that specializes in distributing used hearing aids in developing countries.

A Primer on Rechargeable Hearing Aid Batteries

Theoretically, re-chargeable batteries for hearing aids are definitely a great idea, but in the past this idea didn’t always succeed in reality. Early rechargeable hearing aid batteries were so large that they could only be used in over-the-ear type aids; they also took hours to recharge and then didn’t hold a charge for very long. Instead of the 12 to 14 hours of use that hearing aid wearers need, these early batteries commonly lasted only 5 to 6 hours.

Numerous technological advancements were needed to make rechargeable batteries a practical option. Batteries became smaller and held a charge longer. And the rechargers themselves were redesigned. Together, these enhancements propelled rechargeable hearing aid batteries so far forward that they are now more eco-friendly and often more cost-efficient than disposable batteries. To emphasize these two qualities, during a 3-year span a binaural (both ears) hearing aid user will go through an average of 300 disposable batteries, which would have to be replaced at a cost of 300 to 400 dollars, and would have to be disposed of. In the same time period, the cost of rechargeable batteries (plus the charger) would be about $100 to $200 dollars.

Other benefits of rechargeable batteries include, interestingly enough, having to open fewer sealed-tightly-in-plastic-to-avoid-easy-access battery packages, which can often be a challenge for those over 70, who just happen to be the primary wearers of hearing aids. With some rechargeable hearing aids, you don’t even need to open them to remove the batteries; simply place the entire aid in a recharging unit over night, and it’s all done for you automatically. There are even portable battery rechargers, the size of a pen, which you can use anywhere because they don’t need to be plugged into a wall socket.

Rechargeable hearing aid batteries may have gotten off to a rocky start, but today that are an excellent viable option. They will help you save money and reduce waste. And, you can always revert to disposable batteries in a pinch. If you don’t have access to your charger, just pop in a few disposable batteries in the meantime.

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