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More Hearing Aid Information

Batteries

Frequently asked questions about hearing aid batteries:

How many sizes of hearing aid batteries are commonly used?

Hearing aid batteries come in four commonly used sizes, which we'll rank from smallest to largest. Smaller hearing aid batteries are usually used in smaller hearing aids, while larger batteries are generally used in larger, more powerful hearing aids or cochlear implants.

The smallest commonly used hearing aid batteries are the size 10 batteries which have yellow colour coding on their packaging. This battery is commonly used in completely in the ear hearing aids and in the smallest of the over the ear slim tube style hearing aids.

The second smallest and possibly most commonly used hearing aid battery on the market today is the size 312 battery, which has a brown colour coding in its packaging. This is used for a wide variety of small in-the-ear hearing aids through to small over-the-ear and slim tube hearing aids.

The size 13 hearing aid battery has orange colour coding in its packaging and has the same circumference as the size 312 hearing aid battery, but is twice the width. This battery is often used when more power is required and is commonly found in standard size behind-the-ear and larger in-the-ear hearing aids.

The largest hearing aid batteries are the big and powerful size 675 batteries, which have packaging which is colour coded blue. They are used in very powerful hearing aids and cochlear implants.

How long do hearing aid batteries last?

Hearing aid batteries vary quite a bit where their usable life is concerned. They all have a shelf life of about 2 years if the sticker is still attached, but once you start using them a variety of factors influence their life. As a general rule of thumb, the smaller the hearing aid battery the less its life. The larger the hearing loss, the more drain on the battery and thus the less life you get from it. Modern hearing aid features such as wireless hearing aid technology also drain a fair bit more current from hearing aid batteries than a non-wireless hearing aid would.

For instance a size 10 hearing aid battery would last about 3 or 4 days in most hearing aids if used consistently. They are generally rated at around 80 or 90 hours of use for an average loss. Size 312 hearing aid batteries generally last about 1 week on average when used 10 to 15 hours a day. Size 13 batteries can last two to three weeks and size 675 batteries can last up to 4 weeks in a power hearing aid. Your audiologist should be able to advise you if the lifespan you are getting from your hearing aid batteries is normal or not.

How do I store my hearing aid batteries for best shelf life?

Hearing aid batteries have a shelf life of about two years and the expiry date is usually printed on the packaging. The best way to store them is in a cool, dry environment, out of direct sunlight. Generally the back of a drawer or cupboard is suitable.

Are there any special tips to extend the time I get out of my hearing aid batteries?

Most hearing aid batteries available today are Zinc Air Batteries, which are safer but more variable than the old and dangerous Mercury based hearing aid batteries. All Zinc Air hearing aid batteries have a sticker attached to the flat (positive) side, which once removed reveals a few holes on the back of the battery. Once the sticker is removed, air can flow into the hearing aid battery and activate the battery by mixing with the zinc inside the battery. To ensure you get the best life out of the battery you should avoid touching the flat side of the hearing aid battery and allow at least two or three minutes “breathing time” before putting the battery in the hearing aid. Also make sure you disconnect the battery from the hearing aid when the hearing aid is not in use.

What about rechargeable hearing aids?

Many people like the idea of rechargeable hearing aids and as such there are a couple of hearing aid manufacturers who produce hearing aids that use rechargeable hearing aid batteries. There are a few pros and cons you need to be aware of before deciding to buy rechargeable hearing aids based on the fact that they are rechargeable.

Pros:

  • Rechargeable hearing aids are convenient as you generally place the whole hearing aid in a charging unit, which turns the aid off for you before charging. So clip the hearing aid into the recharger and off you go.
  • Less need to replace batteries as rechargeable hearing aid batteries need replacing once every 6 months, compared to a few days or weeks for normal hearing aid batteries.

Cons:

  • Rechargeable hearing aids last only about 8 hours with a brand new battery before needing charge, which is less than the 10 to 15 hours per day, which many people use modern hearing aids for. So you might need to revert to a normal hearing aid battery if you have used your rechargeable hearing aid battery during the day and wish to use your hearing aid for an evening function as well.
  • Rechargeable hearing aid batteries lose about half their power gradually over 6 months. So when the time comes to replace a rechargeable hearing aid battery, it will only be lasting you about 4 hours per day!
  • Rechargeable hearing aid batteries cost a LOT more than normal hearing aid batteries.

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Selecting The Right Hearing Aid For You

The simplest way to determine what is best for you is to narrow down your choices based on the following three areas:

  • Your needs – technical solutions
  • Your style preference (physical design)
  • Your budget

Styles Of Hearing Aids

It's not JUST about cosmetics

While there are slight variations, there are five basic styles of hearing aids. The styles differ by size, their placement on or inside the ear, and the degree to which they amplify sound. There are many advantages and disadvantages to the different styles, so it is important to choose what best suits you. These basic styles are:

  • Behind-the-ear (BTE)
  • Micro behind-the-ear (mBTE)
  • In-the-ear (ITE)
  • In-the-canal (ITC)
  • Completely-in-the-canal (CIC)

Behind The Ear Hearing Aids (BTE)

These have a microphone that fits behind the ear and an ear piece that fits inside the ear. Ear pieces can either be made of plastic moulded to the exact shape of your ear (known as an earmould) or a thin plastic tube with a dome fitted inside the ear, known as an open fitting. Because the electronic parts are held in the case behind the ear, this hearing aid is more moisture resistant and generally almost immune to damage from ear wax.

BTE hearing aids have the greatest durability, lowest repair rate, highest flexibility for comfort and adjustments, and the best lifespan. Battery life is usually very good (10 – 20 days).

BTE hearing aids can be worn with any degree of hearing loss (mild to profound). The suitability of the different ear pieces may depend upon the degree of hearing loss of the individual:

An open fitting ear piece on a behind the ear hearing aid for milder losses. Since the canal remains open, the patient's perception of his/her own voice is less altered and therefore do not sound plugged up. They are ideal for high pitch (frequency) hearing losses

An earmould is used on a behind the ear hearing aid for severe to profound losses

BTE hearing aidBTE hearing aid

RIC (BTE) Hearing Aids

These look similar to behind-the-ear hearing aids with an open fitting ear piece. The receiver (speaker) is situated within an open fitting ear piece in the canal rather than within the hearing aid.

This hearing aid provides many benefits similar to BTE hearing aids with an open ear piece and can therefore be used with more severe hearing losses than the open ear piece alone. This allows for persons with a more severe hearing loss to use a smaller hearing aid. The battery life will accordingly be shorter (7 – 14 days)

RIC hearing aidRIC hearing aid

In The Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids

These have the microphone (and all other parts of the hearing aid) contained within a moulded ear piece which sits inside the ear canal. They range in different sizes from a completely in the canal style to a full shell.

They are more susceptible to the effects of moisture and must be routinely cleaned for earwax that can potentially get into the instrument and damage the electronics. They have good longevity but higher repair rate. Battery life is normally good, comparable to BTE instruments (10 – 20 days)

ITC hearing aidITC hearing aid

In The Canal Hearing Aids (ITC)

They are small enough to fit almost entirely in the ear canal and is basically a smaller version of the ITE. Cosmetically they are somewhat better than the ITEs . They are comparable to ITEs for durability, repair rate and longevity, but are less flexible for adjustments and usually have a shorter battery life (7 – 14 days).

They are appropriate for persons with mild to moderately-severe hearing loss

ITC hearing aidITC hearing aid

 

Completely In The Canal Hearing Aids (CIC)

They fit deeply inside the ear canal. Because of their small size they have the least amount of flexibility for accommodating comfort issues and have the shortest battery life span (4 – 10 days). They are excellent when it comes to cosmetics. They have a shorter life span and a higher repair rate due to their smaller, more fragile structure.

They are appropriate for persons with mild to moderately-severe hearing loss

CIC hearing aidCIC hearing aid

CROS/BICROS Hearing Aids

For patients with no hearing in one ear and normal (or better) hearing in the other ear, a CROS (BICROS) hearing aid can be very useful. Whilst it cannot return hearing to the 'bad' ear, a CROS hearing aid has a remote microphone on the 'bad' side which picks up sound and passes it to the 'good' ear to be interpreted.

CROS hearing aid

BTEs Dominate The Market

In 2012 BTEs accounted for 70, 8 % of overall sales of hearing aids. This was a much higher rate than in 1999 where BTEs accounted for only 20.3% of sales. CIC models seem to have lost some ground. These almost invisible hearing aids accounted for 8, 5 % of commercial sales in 2010 but only 7, 7 % in 2011 (HIA Statistical Reporting Program. Third Quarter 2012).

How To Be Successful With Hearing Aids

Involve your family. Let's face it: We don't really want hearing aids because we want to hear better. We wear them because we want to improve communication with our friends and family. It's all about relationships. They are the reason you're doing this in the first place
Involve your General Practitioner. He/she should be involved in every aspect of your health. A thorough hearing evaluation may detect health-related issues that could ultimately lead to medical treatment. Therefore, your doctor should be kept up-to-date on this aspect of your health as much as any other.
Set a budget before your appointment, but be flexible. Generally good quality hearing aids cost R 8000 to R 45000 depending on the level of technology and features. Don't overspend on a product with features you will never use or need, but don't sell yourself short and get a cheaper product that may not adequately meet your needs. Get the most your budget will allow
Take a family member or friend with you. As stated above, involving a family member or friend can help you ask the right questions, as well as protect and encourage you to make the right decisions
Have a proper hearing evaluation in a proper sound proof booth. Recommendations can only be based on the information the professional has about you
Ask questions. Ultimately, it is your decision to proceed. Therefore it is best to get all the answers you need prior to proceeding
Do not feel pressured but be open-minded. Remember that you can try out hearing aids in your own environment . If it makes a difference, it is in your best interest to proceed
Select the hearing aid that best meets your needs and budget
Ask about the fitting process and what is expected of you. The fitting process consist of (1) the physical fit, (2) sound tuning, and (3) instructions.
Understand your fees. How much do the hearing aids cost? How much is refundable to you if you decide not to keep them? Some non-refundable handling fee is reasonable but it should not be excessive. Other cost questions would relate to follow-up visits, batteries, loss and damage, etc
Understand your warranty. What is covered, what not, and for how long

Two Ears Are Better Than One

If you have hearing loss in both ears (bilateral hearing loss), then most likely you are a candidate for two hearing aids. Similar to problems in both eyes treated with a pair of glasses, it makes sense that a bilateral hearing loss should be treated with binaural hearing aids. Why are two hearing aids better than one?

Better understanding of speech
Better understanding in group or noisy situations
Better to tell the direction of sound
Better sound quality
Smoother tone quality
Wider hearing range
Better sound identification
Keeps both ears active resulting in potentially less hearing deterioration
Hearing is less tiring and listening more pleasant
Feeling of balanced hearing
Greater comfort when loud noises occur
Reduced feedback and whistling
Tinnitus masking
Customer satisfaction is higher

Logically, just as you use both eyes to see clearly, you need two ears to hear clearly.

(Better Hearing Institute)