Just like any other type of electrical audio device, hearing aids require energy to do their job. The power to detect and amplify sound is provided by hearing aid batteries, which come in two forms: disposable and rechargeable.
The type of battery you use will depend on the style of hearing aid you prefer. To ensure your hearing aids don’t lose power when you need them the most, you need to understand how hearing aid batteries work, what types of batteries are available, and how to extend the life of your batteries to get the most out of them.
The two main types of hearing aid batteries are disposable zinc-air button batteries and rechargeable lithium batteries. Each type of battery has its advantages and disadvantages.
Disposable batteries are the most commonly used type of hearing aid battery and are featured in a wide array of hearing aids.
At this time, rechargeable batteries are only used for behind-the-ear and receiver-in-canal hearing aids. Custom in-the-ear hearing aids don’t currently come with rechargeable batteries.
Disposable hearing aid batteries are small, button-shaped batteries that come in a range of sizes to accommodate a wide variety of hearing aid styles. Such batteries are readily available at pharmacies, electronics stores, grocery stores, hearing healthcare providers, and online retail stores.
Disposable hearing aid batteries are zinc-air activated. When air enters the battery case, it interacts with the enclosed zinc to produce zinc oxide. This chemical reaction generates the energy needed to power the hearing aid.
Once the reaction begins it cannot be stopped, so to prevent early exposure to oxygen, zinc-air hearing aid batteries are factory-sealed with a color-coded protective film. Before installing the battery in a hearing aid battery compartment, you must remove this sticker, initiating the reaction.
Assuming an average 16 hours of use a day, disposable hearing aid batteries will last anywhere from 5 to 14 days. Battery life depends on hours of use, hearing aid amplification strength, hearing aid size, battery size, and whether you use your hearing aid to stream phone, music, or television signals.
Average battery life by size is as follows:
It’s a good idea to always have a few replacement batteries on hand, in case your current batteries die. Batteries may need replacing if sound seems unusually distorted or you find you’re turning up your hearing aid volume more than normal. Some hearing aids will beep when batteries are low, signaling the need for new ones.
Removing dead batteries immediately is recommended since zinc-air batteries that are completely discharged can swell, making them difficult to remove from the battery compartment. Wash your hands before changing batteries to reduce the risk of introducing damaging grease and dirt to the hearing aid.
Extending your hearing aid’s battery life has practical and financial advantages. The longer the battery lasts, the less you have to replace dead batteries, whose size makes them tricky to manipulate. And of course, the longer you can make a battery last, the more value you’re getting for your money. Ways to extend hearing aid battery life include:
Disposable hearing aid batteries are available for behind-the-ear, in-the-ear, in-the-canal, and completely-in-the-canal hearing aids. As a general rule, larger hearing aids require larger batteries.
There are five sizes of hearing aid batteries available: 5, 10, 312, 13, and 675, although size 5 batteries are rarely used. To make identification easier, manufacturers developed a color-coded system for the battery packaging:
Disposable hearing aid batteries are convenient, readily available, and support a wide range of hearing aid styles. They’re a good choice for active people who may run through a recyclable battery charge over the course of a day.
On the downside, disposable button batteries are small, and people with manual dexterity impairments or vision problems may find them difficult to remove and replace. Small batteries also pose a potential swallowing risk for small children and pets. If you suspect a person or pet has swallowed a button battery, seek immediate emergency medical attention.
Newer behind-the-ear and receiver-in-canal hearing aids increasingly use rechargeable batteries. These are lithium batteries similar to the ones that power phones and mobile devices. Such batteries are designed to be recharged at night when the wearer takes the hearing aid off to sleep. During recharging, the hearing aid sits on a docking station that recharges its battery.
Rechargeable batteries have plenty going in their favor. Charging the batteries is as simple as docking the hearing aids every night, and there’s no need to regularly replace batteries. People who struggle to replace disposable button batteries due to physical limitations may find that rechargeable hearing aid batteries make life much easier. Built-in batteries also eliminate the risk of accidentally ingesting batteries, so they’re a good choice for young children.
That’s not to say there aren’t drawbacks to rechargeable hearing aids:
Whether you choose rechargeable or disposable hearing aid batteries, today’s hearing aids offer high-quality sound amplification to improve your hearing and quality of life. If you or a loved one is having trouble hearing, arrange an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids or other hearing loss treatment is right for you.
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