Hearing aid batteries

Hearing aid batteries

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. 

Types of hearing aid batteries

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

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.

How do disposable hearing aid batteries work?

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.

How long do disposable batteries last?

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:

  • Size 10: 3 - 7 days
  • Size 312: 3 -10 days
  • Size 13: 6 - 14 days
  • Size 675: 9 - 20 days

How do I know when to change the batteries?

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.

How can I extend hearing aid battery life?

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:

  1. Storing batteries at room temperature in dry environments (avoid storing spare batteries in bathrooms and other hot, humid locations)
  2. Turn off hearing aids when not in use.
  3. At night, turn off the hearing aid and open the battery compartment to allow any accumulated moisture to evaporate.
  4. If you won’t use the hearing aid for an extended period of time, remove the battery from the battery compartment.
  5. Avoid carrying batteries in pockets or purses, where they can make contact with keys, coins, or other metal objects which can cause the battery to short circuit.
  6. Do not refrigerate batteries.
  7. Do not remove the protective film from disposable hearing aid batteries until you are ready to use them.
  8. Do not purchase hearing aid batteries when the protective film is damaged or removed.
  9. When replacing a battery, take the protective film off it but wait a few minutes to allow oxygen to permeate the battery before adding it to the hearing aid battery compartment.

Disposable hearing aid battery sizes

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:

  • Yellow: Size 10 batteries
  • Brown: Size 312 batteries
  • Orange: Size 13 batteries
  • Blue: Size 675 batteries
  • Red: Size 5 batteries

Pros & Cons of disposable batteries

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. According to the National Capital Poison Center, more than 3,200 Americans of all ages swallow disposable button batteries annually. If you suspect a person or pet has swallowed a button battery, seek immediate emergency medical attention. 

Rechargeable hearing aid batteries

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.

How long do rechargeable batteries last?

Rechargeable hearing aid batteries can hold a charge for up to 30 hours, although they should be recharged every night to ensure maximum use. Many models also offer a fast-charging option that you can use when you need a quick boost for your battery. Lithium rechargeable batteries can last up to five years before they need replacing. 

Pros & Cons of rechargeable batteries

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:

  1. The size of rechargeable batteries currently limits their use to behind-the-ear and receiver-in-canal hearing aids, limiting your choice of hearing aid models. 
  2. Recharging lithium batteries can take time, which is why rechargeable hearing aids are usually charged at night. There are some rechargeable models that offer a fast-charge option, which takes only 30 minutes to give the battery an extra four hours of life. Very active people may prefer the convenience of being able to replace disposable batteries on the go. Power outages or accidentally turning the charging dock off can also interfere with recharging.
  3. When rechargeable batteries do need replacing, they must be replaced by someone with proper training, which can leave you with a loaner aid for a few days. While infrequent, such incidents should be considered when choosing between rechargeable and disposable hearing aid batteries. 
  4. Finally, cost may be an issue. The cost of a charging unit and replacement batteries is sometimes not included in the price of rechargeable hearing aids. Compare this cost and convenience to the ongoing cost of disposable hearing aid batteries to see which makes the most financial sense to you. 

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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