For this final post of 2017, I’m reprinting the most-read article I’ve ever posted to the Better Hearing Consumer. Since its original posting in May of 2012, I’ve added cochlear implant batteries to my arsenal of hearing things. I hope that you’re all having a peaceful and happy holiday season.
Best wishes, Gael Hannan
What I Didn’t Know About Hearing Aid Batteries
When considering a blog about hearing aid batteries, I thought “What’s to write? When I put them in, I hear. When they sputter out, I don’t. I put in new batteries. End of boring story.”
On second thought, I’ve been “doing” hearing aid batteries for 37 years (I started young), and I don’t usually think about them until there’s a problem. In reality, I’m only one dead battery away from hysterics. While I may project an image of hearing loss serenity, if I put in my hearing aid and there’s no sound, my heart rate accelerates and my blood runs cold.
“It’s only the battery, it’s only the battery,” I tell myself.
And usually it is. But until I know that for sure – until I can fumble a fresh battery out of the package, tear off the sticky thingy and re-insert my hearing aid – my hands sweat and my knees shake. Then, if I hear the welcoming chimes of an active hearing aid, I relax and send a thank-you to the skies. But if the hearing aid is still dead, I have a minor meltdown until the problem is fixed. (Dud battery? Air vent plugged? Wax guard need changing? Hello, Mrs. Audiologist?!)
I cannot go very long without my hearing aids; I get dizzy. One horrible Sunday evening, long ago when late-night pharmacies were still a dream, my battery died and I had no spares. Since then, I always have a supply of batteries on hand and I never leave home without a package in my purse.
The most challenging aspect of hearing aid batteries, beyond making sure you have some, is the act of putting them in. These cells are small beings, requiring manual dexterity. Battery manufacturers understand this and are always working on new designs for packaging and insertion. There have been dial-a-battery packages and some that push the battery out, but at the moment we seem to be back to simple packaging.
Breaking news! I’ve just discovered that my hearing aid kit included a “multi-purpose tool” with a magnet at one end to facilitate battery handling. It’s cool – but by the time I get to the age or stage where my fingers cannot manoeuvre the battery directly, I certainly won’t be able to hold this small wand either, much less find it.
What the Experts Tell Us About Batteries (And My Comments)
- Fresh batteries are best. That is true but packaged batteries do last for a long time. And as they no longer seem to carry a “Best By” date, it’s hard to tell what’s fresh and what ain’t.
- Remove the battery from the hearing aid when you’re not wearing it. Either no one told me this, or I didn’t hear it. For the first year, I put my aid in a drawer every night, with the battery humming away. Apparently, this was not good. Removing the battery lengthens battery life and prevents potentially damaging corrosion.
- Speaking of extending a battery’s ‘lifespan’….
After removing the tab on zinc air batteries, let battery sit for 1 minute before inserting into the hearing aid, for optimal performance. I did not know this! I’ve always been a peel-and-pop girl – I peel off the tab and pop it right into the aid. I am reformed as of this minute. Unless I’m in a hurry.
The more severe a person’s hearing loss, the harder a battery must work, shortening its life. Well, that explains my status as preferred battery-buyer. Should I should collecting points or something?
Hearing aids with all the bells and whistles may use more power, causing the battery to expire sooner. But if one needs, and can afford, the higher-end technology, what’s an extra couple of batteries a year?
In the presence of loud noise, batteries work harder and die younger. I try to avoid too much loud noise – not to save my batteries, but to save my hearing and sanity.
Low humidity will dry out the battery and high humidity can interfere with its discharge. Low temperatures or high altitudes cause lower battery voltage. Oh, where to live!? I guess the best place, for optimal battery life and performance, is a hot dry place like Arizona. Or in a closet.
Store batteries at room temperature. Is the bottom of a purse considered ‘room temperature’?
Do not keep dead batteries in the bottom of the purse; throw them out immediately. I thought it was eco-cool to collect old batteries and hand them in for recycling. Not that I ever did this, mind you; they just collected in my purse until an occasional clean-out.
- Dry aid kits are recommended in the humid summer months to protect hearing aids and batteries from moisture damage. The battery should be removed from the aid(s) while inside the kit. They are not recommended for the dry (winter) months, but this is one bit of advice I’m going to ignore. My dry aid provides year-round protection from cats and dust.
- If you swallow a battery while reading this blog, click here for battery poison information.
- If your hearing aid beeps, it means something. When I got my new digital hearing aids, I obviously didn’t read the instruction booklet; I was very focused on dealing with the new type of sound. A few days later, I heard something in the house go beep-beep! I rushed around checking fire and carbon monoxide alarms, the coffee machine, the microwave, the various computers and phones. All of a sudden, I heard what sounded like a quiet missile falling to earth, and my hearing aid went quiet. Aha! The beep-beep was warning me that my battery was about to expire.
OK, I admit it: hearing aid batteries are fascinating. For an interesting article on rechargeable hearing aid batteries, see the recent post by guest blogger Gabrielle Filips. In fact, HearingHealthMatters.org contains many great blogs on the subject – just type in ‘batteries’ in the search box on the right hand column of this webpage.