Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
They help you hear your loved ones more clearly, alert you to emergency sirens and other safety signals, and enhance outings to the movies and theater. Aside from the technology, the most amazing things about your new hearing aids may be the batteries that power them. Do you know how to maximize their effectiveness?
Handling button batteries
If you’ve lived long enough, you may remember a time before miniature batteries were commonplace — where people wound their wrist watches every day. Even though there are rechargeable options for select hearing aids today, the majority of the devices sold today run on conventional batteries. Battery technology has evolved from the ones that powered our boom boxes and portable radios, but it’s still important to handle them with care — especially those button batteries which keep our hearing aids working at maximum power.
- Wash hands thoroughly before changing batteries. Grease and dirt from your hands can transfer to the battery, damaging your hearing device. Not only can it interfere with the connection necessary to power your hearing aids, it can also clog the sound outlet and ventilation openings resulting in weak or distorted sound.
- Hearing aid batteries today are mercury-free and are considered non-hazardous waste. They can be safely disposed of in the trash. However, they can be recycled by taking them to a local battery drop-off location.
Hearing aid batteries can last anywhere from three to 20 days, depending on their size and the power level of your hearing aids. If you’re like most hearing aid users, you have an extra pack or two on hand. But what’s the best way to store them? Here are a few tips.
- Store them out of reach of children and separately from your medications. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 3,500 incidents of poisoning are reported to poison control centers each year. These button-sized batteries contain metals which create an electrical current when mixed with body fluids like saliva. This current can burn through tissue and damage internal organs in as little as two hours’ time.
- Store them in a dry, cool place at normal room temperature. Overheating can lead to loss of energy, leaking and rupture. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no advantage to storing them in a refrigerator. In fact, this can cause condensation inside the battery package which can shorten the lifespan.
- Use older batteries first. Most zinc-air button batteries can last for up to three years when kept in at room temperature in a dry environment. Although you probably won’t keep an unopened package of hearing aid batteries for that long, using a first-in, first-out system will ensure your spare batteries will never get too old to power your hearing aids when you need them.
National Battery Ingestion Hotline: 202-625-3333
Prolonging battery life
There’s nothing more frustrating than having your hearing aid batteries fail in the middle of an important event. Use these suggestions to ensure your aids are always operating at full power:
- Keep the battery contacts in your hearing aids clean. That means washing your hands before you change batteries and keeping the battery compartment clean and dry.
- Turn your hearing aids off when not in use and remove the batteries. You might also want to open the battery compartment and store your hearing devices in a dehumidifier at night while you sleep. This device removes excess moisture, which prevents battery corrosion.
- Don’t remove the plastic tab from each battery until you’re ready to use them. Most hearing aid batteries are powered by oxidizing zinc with oxygen in the air. Removing the tab exposes the power cell to oxygen and activates the battery. Note: once the tab is removed, it cannot be replaced.
- Wait at least one minute after removing the plastic tab before inserting it into the hearing device. This allows the battery to fully power up and maximizes its effectiveness in your hearing device.
- Transport batteries properly. Don’t carry them loose in your purse or pocket, especially with coins or other metal objects like paper clips. This can make the battery short circuit, leading to high heat and leakage. Carry them in their original packaging whenever possible, otherwise, use a small plastic container with a snap-tight lid.
Now that you have hearing aids, don’t let weak batteries minimize their effectiveness. Wear your hearing devices every day to maximize the physical and emotional health benefits they provide. See your hearing healthcare professional if you notice any changes in your hearing, the way your hearing aids are functioning, or just need some help with your hearing aid batteries or operation. Working together, you’ll be hearing your best for years to come. You might also be interested in learning more about rechargeable hearing aids, which are growing in popularity.