How to maximize the use of hearing aid batteries and save money?
Humans are superior compared with animals in more ways than one. Our intellect definitely sets us apart, but there are other aspects where animals are far better than us – hearing is one example.
Most animals like horse, sheep, rabbit, dog, cat and bat can hear better with more sensitive hearing even to low-frequency sounds. Likewise, some animals can even “hear” or sense sounds using their teeth or the tiny hair in their bodies. We humans can only rely on our ears to hear and to lose hearing on one or both ears can make us feel less about ourselves.
Hearing loss has been prevalent over the years. With the evolving lifestyle and the diversity of jobs, more and more people are suffering from sudden and gradual hearing loss. There are also people who were born with hearing impairment. There are various ways to treat hearing loss but the most accessible one is the use of hearing aids.
Hearing aids are electronic devices that are designed to amplify sounds for the benefit of people with hearing loss. It can be worn in one ear or both, depending on the need of a user. There are different types of hearing aids designed for different levels and severity of hearing loss, preference of the user and budget.
Types of hearing aids
Behind the ear (BTE)
These hearing aids come in two parts connected by a thin cable or ear hook that runs above and behind the ear.
A plastic case with the volume and power buttons encloses the microphone, speaker battery and amplifier rests behind the ear. In the outer ear, an earmold made out of plastic or silicone sits. It is recommended for all ages and only the earmold needs adjustment as the users grow up.
These hearing aids are customized based on the aesthetic preference of the user while serving the purpose to aid hearing loss. It comes in different sizes and colors. All of the components fit in an earmold-like enclosure.
These hearing aids are the smallest type and perfect for those whose preference and line of work may require the most invisible hearing aid possible.
How long does a hearing aid battery last?
Hearing aids are not cheap especially if the one you prefer is more discreet or has more advanced features and connectivity. Frequent battery replacement can be equally frustrating. Poor or low battery power means poor hearing aid performance too.
Ideally, hearing aid batteries should last for 120 hours or 6 to 7 days on a 16-hour use daily. However, hearing aid batteries’ lifespan still depends on the type of hearing aid you have, the connectivity options and the manner of usage.
Are there rechargeable batteries for hearing aids?
A lot of hearing aids now come with Bluetooth connectivity that allows you to hear sound clearer, reduce noise and allows music listening and TV viewing directly through your hearing aid.
These enhancements contribute to the shorter battery span of hearing aids making way to the availability of rechargeable hearing aids. However, rechargeable hearing aids still have a lot of downsides, being a new technology, that includes:
Shorter hearing aid use
A single full charge of the rechargeable hearing aids in the market can make you use your hearing aid for 12 hours while using it for entertainment purposes can drive it down to 5 hours.
Lithium-ion battery-powered hearing aids may not be eligible for repair and may need to be completely replaced when the battery life ends.
Limited hearing aid types
Since the rechargeable batteries will eat up more space in a hearing aid, you might night be able to find a smaller type of hearing aids for now and might need to settle with BTE types.
How do I maximize the use of my hearing aid batteries?
In consideration of the cost and the constraints that come with rechargeable type hearing aids, those that allow battery replacement may still be the best option for you. It is now a matter of maximizing the life of your hearing aid batteries. For better reference, a survey published by Hearing Tracker, Inc. in 2016 listed down the average battery hours based on hearing aid types.
Behind-the-ear – 110 hours
In-the-ear – 98 hours
Receiver-in-canal – 82 hours
Invisible-in-canal – 79 hours
In-the-canal – 78 hours
Completely-in-canal – 61 hours
Based on this presentation, it is evident that smaller types of hearing aids, also has a shorter battery life, obviously because it can carry smaller mAh (ampere hour).
There are also two most common battery sizes being used for hearing aids, according to the same study – sizes 312 and 13. In the head to head comparison between the two, size 13 battery works longer hours for all the major brands reviewed.
How much does it cost?
Batteries differ in price depending on the size or capacity. In a comparison published by Hearing Tracker, between six (6) brands with 4 different sizes, the average prices are as follows:
Size 10 – $0.33/cell
Size 312 – $0.35/cell
Size 13 – $0.34/cell
Size 675 – $0.58/cell
That means using a size 675 battery will cost you $30.00 in a year per ear if you will use your hearing aid for 15-16 hours daily.
How will I know if my hearing aid batteries need replacement?
Aside from taking note of the average number of hours use for the battery depending on your hearing aid type, as mentioned above, there are tell-tale signs that will alert you that your battery needs replacing soon:
Sound hiccups or skipping sound
Lower sound volume despite adjustments
Low battery beeping sounds
Total loss of sound
Remember that a discharged battery only means that you will have to bear with difficulty hearing or hearing loss again so always keep a spare battery or two with you.
How can I save cost on battery replacements?
The best way to save cost on battery replacement is to maximize the use of each one. Follow these tips to prolong the battery life of your hearing aids:
First in, first out
Always use batteries according to purchase date. Although batteries should have an optimal lifespan, environmental factors such as temperature and prolonged storage can affect its lifespan.
Store the batteries properly
As the packaging says “Store in a cool, dry place”, most packaging may be enclosed in a molded plastic with carton at the back. It can easily get wet on wet surfaces and a humid environment. Store it in a temperature controlled room like the bedroom and avoid storing in the bathroom and kitchen at all times. Keep out the reach of the children as well.
Do not remove the plastic tabs unless you are using it
Hearing aid batteries come with plastic tabs for ease of use. These tabs are pulled out or removed upon proper placement of the battery on the hearing aid. Removing it ahead can make the battery lose its freshness.
Proper battery installation helps prolong its life
Upon removal of the plastic tab, research says that you can prolong the lifespan of your battery by 2 to 3 days more if you let it sit for 5 minutes to let the air power up the zinc in the battery before closing the hearing aid battery compartment and turning it on.
Turn off your hearing aid when not in use
Make sure you do not forget to turn the power off if you will not use your hearing aid when you sleep. Set an alarm to remind you because saving an extra 10 minutes daily can lead to an extra hour for the week. Likewise, make it a habit to remove you’re the battery if you will not use your hearing aid for more than 24 hours to prevent leak and corrosion that can damage the hearing aid.
Make sure your hearing aid is moisture-free
Our ear has natural moisture, hot weather can also cause our ears to accumulate more moisture and sweat and that can affect your hearing aid battery. Make it a part of your nightly routine to keep the battery compartment open to let any moisture dry and prevent battery corrosion.
Use of hearing aids is proven to be the most practical hearing loss treatment that is non-invasive and can restore hearing almost in an instant. However, the convenience comes with a price and some effort too. Hearing aids may cost you an average of $2,700 per piece or $5,400 for both ears and the price will definitely go up depending on the features that you need. Hearing aid battery prices should also be considered as it can cost you an additional $30 or more on a yearly basis, depending on how you use your hearing aid and its features. Compare each type and the number of hours it can deliver can lower your costs for sure. Making a conscious effort to prolong the battery life of your hearing aids and proper handling and care for it can prolong the lifespan of your hearing aid too.