Hi, I'm Jim Cuddy and this is Ask The Hearing Doctors. And I'm joined today by Dr. Jenna Valania, doctor of audiology with Hearing Doctors. The Washington DC area's highest-rated audiology practice with over 1500, five-star reviews. Jenna, great to see. Good to see you, too. Thank you so much for having me today. Of course, absolutely.
All right. So Jenna, today we're going to talk about rechargeable hearing aid batteries. So they use lithium-ion technology, what exactly is a lithium-ion battery?
That's a great question. The really simple answer is it sits in all of our cell phones and it's in a lot of our electronics that we use. So the biggest difference is is that it's part of the hearing aid versus those zinc-air batteries or those teeny tiny ones that can be removed easily by the patient.
Why use the lithium-ion versus that that zinc battery?
Well let's just think about how many things at the end of the day you plug in to recharge. I have a lot of them on me right now, a watch, your cell phone, some people their laptop, iPad, computer all of those things. We’re naturally just plugging in at the end of the day. Hearing aids were that next natural step and it's really nice because it keeps it very simple. You're plugging everything else in, add your hearing aids to that list. Ah.
Now care for for these batteries I mean you got to use the right station, recharging station all these types. What other things do people need to be aware of when it comes to rechargeable batteries?
Absolutely, one of the things to be aware of is that we will teach you how to use it. So before you leave the office during your hearing aid fitting we will show you how to charge the hearing aid appropriately. A lot of them now have really improved for people with concerns for their dexterity. So we make it very easy and the hearing aid companies have looked across the lifespan - Who's using a hearing aid? We want to make it easy to use. So all you need to do is just pop it in the charger at the end of the day. We make sure that you put it in the right way. A really big perk about lithium-ion batteries is you never have to worry that it's going to run out of battery in the middle of a conversation. That battery life even just with charging it overnight will get you anywhere from 20 to 30 hours of battery life with one charge. So what we always tell our patients is charge it while you're sleeping.
Now something to keep in mind is there may be some circumstances where you aren't wearing your hearing aids for a few days. We want you to take them out of the charger just so that they don't overcharge. That's one of our very common questions is, okay, it says it charges fully in three hours but I'm sleeping for eight, am I going to overcharge it. That's not the case unless you plan on not wearing your hearing aids for a few weeks at a time.
Now what happens I've had my I've had my my batteries charging overnight as I slept, I get up in the morning, put them on they're fine but they don't last all day?
That's a great question and while we hope you don't run into that problem give our office a call. Just like any electronic there are something sometimes we need to take a look at what's going on internally with the hearing aid. I always tell people first of all check and make sure that the outlet that you are plugging into is on when you need the hearing aid to be charging. It's very common for people to plug that hearing aid charger into their nightstand and then they turn off that light that's on their nightstand and the outlet goes with it. Hearing aids aren't going to charge if they're not plugged in. Um, so I always check to make sure that that outlet is on. And each of the hearing aid chargers has what's called an indicator light letting you know that there is a power source going to the charger.
Then I also checked to make sure that the another indicator light, that the hearing aids themselves are charging. So one, do you have power to the charger? Two, do you have those are those hearing aids receiving that power? If the hearing aids are fully charged and they are still not holding a charge overnight I want you to give our office a call. That's what we're here for to look into those problems, send it back to the company for a quick, in warranty repair and to get it lasting longer for you.
It happens from time to time?
It does. And sometimes we have found um there are certain hearing aids that if you do a lot of streaming or phone calls or video calls just like if you were listening with a pair of Bluetooth headphones that battery is going to go a little bit quicker. That's where talking to your audiologist about your lifestyle really helps us to make the best decision for you as far as what rechargeable hearing aids we should consider for your care.
Now will the lithium-ion battery last longer if I don't charge it every night?
No. It will not. And that's a great question because we always hear that we shouldn't be charging our phones unless we really need to. It's a different type of charge, so with a phone for the most part, now there are some phones that you don't have to physically plug in that we found that just that touch charge tends to not have that battery die out as fast on a cell phone. The hearing aids that concept is the same. You're not plugging the physical hearing aid in or that physical lithium-ion battery in, you're placing it on the charger or you're placing it in the charger. So we don't find that that charge degrades over time.
Now what about the life expectancy? Can can I expect that hearing aid battery to last as long as my hearing aids?
That's also a fantastic question that we get all the time as well. We the best way to describe it is your hearing hearing aids are going to come with either a three or a four year warranty for that top of the line product. And we always encourage our patients or anyone that wears hearing aids to take advantage of what's called a warranty check. Meaning you take about a week that hearing aid goes back to the manufacturer, they take it apart they look at all the parts make sure they're operating optimally for what the hearing aid needs to do. Now we have not found in any of our patients both either professionally or personally to say that that battery has not lasted the length of that hearing aid life. So we're encouraged by that news.
All right now let's say I just get a new set of hearing aids. What do I do with my old ones? Can I just toss the lithium batteries away?
So, a lot of people that are upgrading their hearing aids for the first time are switching from that zinc-air or that really tiny battery, the size 10 that yellow one, 312 the brown one, 13 the orange or the 675 the blue. Now those batteries work on battery operated hearing aids only. It's not interchangeable. So you those batteries are not going to be useful for your new hearing aids. We always encourage if you're holding on to your old hearing aids as backup to keep some batteries on on hand just in case you need them. Batteries have a long shelf life but always be sure to check that expiration date. Um you can bring your old batteries to a battery recycling center or bring them right into our office and we'll take care of that for you. Okay.
In the end, rechargeable is the way to go?
Absolutely. They have better moisture resistance, better sweat resistance, better dust resistance. So that IP rating or what a lot of cell phone companies use to show their durability it's the same in a hearing aid. I've the biggest thing that I really want to that I always talk to with patients and families and especially caregivers of family members is the ease of care. You don't have to deal with tiny battery parts. It's very hard no matter even if you have the most nimble of fingers. Those batteries are tiny. The battery door is tiny. You're dealing with really small parts. And also having to remember to change that battery. Sometimes every three days. So the way to go really at this time is a rechargeable hearing aid.
All right. Jenna, thank you so much for your time. Thank you, I appreciate it.
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