They may be small, but batteries have a BIG impact on the use and overall satisfaction of daily wear hearing aids. “How long will the battery last? Are there ways to ensure a longer battery life? Are there different environments or listening situations that drain battery life more than others?” These are all very common and important questions for patients with hearing aids. There are a variety of factors that contribute to how long a hearing aid battery will last. These factors include the degree of hearing loss, type of hearing aid, listening environments, and how the hearing aid is being manipulated.
First let’s discuss basic composition. Hearing aid batteries utilize zinc-air technology which means the battery uses oxygen from the atmosphere as an active component. One feature that is unique to zinc-air batteries is the use of a sticker or tab to seal the vent holes prior to activation. Once the tab is removed, the battery is active and begins to discharge power; the tab cannot be placed back on the battery to preserve battery life or to slow down the activation process. Therefore, it is important to use the battery soon after activation but waiting approximately one minute before battery insertion is recommended in order to allow the battery to fully activate.
Now, let’s look at the previously mentioned factors that contribute to overall battery life. With hearing loss, the greater or more severe the loss, the more the hearing aids have to amplify sounds which will increase the energy needed to power the hearing aid and inevitably cause the battery to drain faster. The type or size of hearing aid has an impact on the battery used. Obviously, the smaller the device, the smaller the battery needed. As the battery size decreases, so does the amount of zinc that is encased within the battery. The less zinc in the battery, the shorter the battery life.
The advancement of hearing aid technology also plays a role in battery life. Hearing aids now have more sophisticated processing strategies and features that enhance the overall communication but require more battery power. Some of these additional features include wireless options, Bluetooth streaming, looping, FM use, and tinnitus programs and will increase battery consumption up to 300%.
Extreme climates or environments can also have an effect on battery performance. Exceptionally cold temperatures as well as very dry climates will drain a battery faster. Very humid climates will cause battery life to decrease more rapidly because the battery will absorb moisture from the air. Finally, high altitude impacts battery life because the decreased availability of oxygen.
Keeping these factors in mind, there are some simple steps to help ensure the best battery performance. Batteries should be stored at room temperature; therefore, it’s best to avoid the extremes such as the refrigerator or a hot car for example. Keep batteries in their original packaging or in a battery holder. This will keep the batteries from making contact with other metal objects (keys, coins, other batteries, etc) which could cause a battery short.
In conclusion, hearing aid battery life is clearly dependent on various factors. Unfortunately, there is not one answer that will suffice for every patient in regards to battery longevity. The information given above should answer commonly asked questions regarding battery life expectancy and how to properly care for hearing aid batteries to enable the longest use possible.
Rule, A., and Kouba, K. (2013, December). Rayovac hearing aid batteries – important things to know to ensure patient satisfaction. AudiologyOnline, Article 12293. Retrieved from: http://www.audiologyonline.com