A hearing aid can be a true lifesaver for those suffering from hearing loss, a condition that affects quality of life in so many ways. Individuals with hearing loss face challenges everywhere from work environments to social ones and they often experience depression because of these challenges. Improved hearing quality can result in more productive careers and better relationships with family and friends.
But hearing aids aren’t cheap! These medical devices can be a significant expense and in using one, wearers should seek the best possible experience for their money. One common question for users of hearing aids is “how long will the battery last?”
We will explore the ins and outs of how hearing aids work as well as what you need to know about the batteries that power them.
How Does a Hearing Aid Work?
A hearing aid acts to magnify sound vibrations as they enter the ear. Two primary types receive and convert sounds for wearers:
- Analog hearing aids convert the sounds into electronic signals in the ear. Those sounds are also amplified and the hearing aid can be programmed and tailored to an individual’s needs. It can be changed for different environments (for example, one of the settings might be appropriate for large and open environments, such as an outdoor sporting event). Analog hearing aids are usually the cheaper of the two options described here.
- Digital hearing aids will convert incoming sounds into numerical codes, which are then amplified. These numerical codes carry with them information about the incoming sound’s volume and pitch. Digital hearing aids offer more flexibility in terms of tailoring to the specific wearer’s needs and they typically come with a higher price tag than analog aids.
Analog and digital hearing aids also come in a wide variety of styles, from those worn behind the ear to those placed within the ear canal. Choosing a hearing aid that is specific to your needs should always be done in consultation with a medical professional, who can determine the type and style of aid that will maximize your quality of hearing. Hearing loss stems from many different factors—whether a one-time traumatic injury, a bout with tinnitus after frequent exposure to loud noise, or simply the natural process of aging. Uncovering the root cause of the hearing loss is an important first step before treating it with a hearing aid or any other medical intervention.
How Long Do Hearing Aid Batteries Last?
The duration of a hearing aid battery can vary widely based on a number of factors, including the average number of daily hours it is worn, the type of hearing aid that is being used, as well as the type of battery itself. In general, the battery could last for a few days or as many as 22. Because of that wide range, it is important for users to look at the ins and outs of the models they choose as well as the batteries they use to power them.
Luckily, there are some proactive steps wearers can take to minimize the drain on a hearing aid battery:
- While this one seems simple enough it can be easy to forget: turn off the hearing aid when not wearing it! You can also open the battery door as this helps to mitigate the drain on the battery (this allows moisture to escape and prevents corrosion).
- Be sure to store the hearing aid in moderate temperatures when it is not in use; storage in extreme temperatures (for example, leaving it in a hot car) can also drain the battery life.
- In cases where you may not be using your hearing aid for an extended period of time, go ahead and remove the battery entirely.
- When you change the batteries in your hearing aid, be sure you have chosen the oldest package from your supply. All batteries have a shelf life and you should ensure you pay attention to expiration dates.
- Let the battery “air out” before inserting it into the device. After the plastic tab is removed from the hearing aid battery, the zinc inside the battery interacts with air. This “breathing time” before it is inserted the device has been shown to extend battery life, and a good rule of thumb is to wait five minutes before inserting the battery into your hearing aid.
- Try out different battery brands to evaluate the ones that have the longest life with your particular model of hearing aid.
How Will I Know When the Battery Should Be Changed?
This will vary depending on the model of hearing aid you are using, but, in general, the battery will need to be changed if a beeping indicator within the device alerts you to do so OR if incoming sounds have distortion. Just as you don’t want to wait until your gas gauge hits (completely) empty to refuel your car, you should change the battery as soon as the indicator alerts you rather than waiting for the device to stop working altogether. Experienced hearing aid users know to carry extra batteries, especially during travel.
Can I Use a Rechargeable Battery With My Hearing Aid?
While many of our personal electronic devices are powered by rechargeable batteries, hearing aids are an exception to this trend. In short, hearing aids are unique in their size and consumption, so we have not yet seen a shift toward rechargeable batteries and the zinc-air batteries remain the primary battery used in hearing aids. There are a few rechargeable options on the market, but they may not work as well (or be as cost-effective) as the standard zinc-air batteries.
- Take a proactive approach in caring for and storing your hearing aid batteries to prolong their life.
- Before choosing a hearing aid, educate yourself on the type of battery it uses as well as how long it typically lasts.