Once you’ve purchased your hearing aids, there are generally a few accessories that are necessary to keep them operating properly and in the best condition. In addition to a case to carry them in and general tools to help keep them clean, batteries are an essential purchase for every hearing aid wearer.
Types of hearing aid batteries
While there are rechargeable batteries available on the market, the most common type is still the zinc-air button battery. Traditionally hearing aid batteries were produced using trace amounts of mercury to assist with conductivity and stabilize internal components, but all major battery manufacturers now sell a mercury-free variety.
Because zinc-air batteries are air-activated, a factory-sealed sticker allows them to remain inactive until it is removed. Once peeled off the back of the battery, oxygen in the air will interact with the zinc in the battery and “turn it on.” To get the best performance from a zinc-air battery, the battery should be left open to the air for at least one minute to fully activate before placing it in the hearing device. The battery will not be deactivated if the sticker is placed back on the device, so once it is removed the battery will remain in an active state until the power is drained.
Zinc-air batteries remain stable for up to three years when stored in a room temperature, dry environment. It is important to note that storing zinc-air batteries in the refrigerator actually has no benefits and could actually cause water particles to form under sticker, which could activate the battery before desired use.
Sizes of batteries
Hearing aids come in many different sizes and styles. Because there are various sizes of hearing aids with different features, the amount of power needed for the device to run differs. Larger hearing aids generally require larger hearing aid batteries. Additionally, hearing aids used for individuals with severe or profound hearing losses typically require larger batteries because more power is needed to help them operate.
There are five sizes of hearing aid batteries available on the market. The sizes, from smallest to largest, are 5, 10, 312, 13 and 675. Size 5 hearing aid batteries are very rare. The four most common hearing aid battery sizes are all smaller than the diameter of a dime:
- Size 10 - 5.8 mm wide by 3.6 mm high
- Size 312 - 7.9 mm wide by 3.6 mm high
- Size 13 - 7.9 mm wide by 5.4 mm high
- Size 675 - 11.6 mm wide by 5.4 mm high
Because size differences may appear trivial to the regular eye or can be difficult to remember, battery packaging is generally color-coded to making finding and purchasing the correct ones easier. Size 5 batteries are labeled red, size 10 batteries are labeled with yellow, size 312 are marked in brown, size 13 are packaged in orange and size 675 are usually designated using blue. The most common battery size for hearing aids in the US market is the brown, size 312 battery.
One of the most common questions individuals have about hearing aid batteries is how long they will last. Generally speaking, they can last anywhere from five to 14 days, based on a 16 hour per day use cycle. This is of course dependent upon the size of the battery and power needed by the hearing aid. Typically, smaller ones don’t last quite as long because their size restricts the amount of power stored in them.
The average life span of hearing aid batteries is as follows:
- Size 10 - three to seven days
- Size 312 - three to 10 days
- Size 13 - six to 14 days
- Size 675 - nine to 20 days
If a hearing aid user is experiencing shortened battery life, it’s possible there is an issue with the hearing device. A hearing aid wearer should consult their device manual or contact their hearing healthcare professional to make sure everything is working properly.
How to extend the life of a hearing aid battery
While there aren’t any full-proof methods of extending battery life, there are a few steps to follow to ensure the power isn’t being wasted.
To get optimal performance from your battery, always store them at room temperature. Heat exposure has been shown to shorten their life, in addition to a humid environment such as a bathroom or inside the car. Also, batteries shouldn’t be carried loose in pockets, a purse or a backpack where they might come into contact with other metal pieces. Items such as change or keys can short-circuit the hearing aid batteries.
Where to purchase hearing aid batteries
Batteries are typically available in mass retail stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, electronics stores and through online retailers.
Many hearing aid wearers choose to purchase batteries through their hearing healthcare provider for a number of reasons and benefits. Because audiologists frequently go through their stock of batteries, many hearing aid wearers feel they are getting fresher, newer batteries. Also, in the event a person forgets what battery they need for their particular device the hearing healthcare professional will ensure they are purchasing the correct one.
Additionally, it’s worth asking if your hearing health practitioner offers any kind of battery club or discount program through them. Sometimes, to encourage individuals to purchase batteries from their clinic, they will offer a discount or free batteries after a certain amount have been purchased through them.
- Zinc-Air Batteries, MIT Technology Review, http://www.technologyreview.com/article/401188/zinc-air-batteries/