All About Batteries

Many of the most “Frequently Asked Questions” I hear a lot pertain to one thing: BATTERIES.  You have to have them, so let’s get some information out here and hope it will help to dispel some myths or misunderstandings.
First of all, hearing aid batteries come in 4 different sizes.  Below is a table that shows the size number, the “color” of the package and tabs, and the average life span, based on 12 hours of usage per day.

Size    Color   Average Life**
10      Yellow  5-7 days
312     Brown   8-14 days
13      Orange  10-20 days
675     Blue    8-20 days

Q: Why are the batteries color coded?
A: The batteries are color coded because it is much easier for most people to remember that their batteries are in a package with yellow or blue stickers than remembering that they are “size 10” or “size 675”.  The battery size numbers do not correlate in size from smallest to largest, so the color is easier to remember.
Q: Why do my batteries have a sticker on them in the package?
A: The vast majority of disposable hearing aid batteries on the market currently are Zinc-Air batteries.  They have a sticker on them to keep them inactive until you are ready to use them.  When you are ready to put in a fresh battery, pull off the sticker and throw it away or put it on your calendar as a reminder; this is a good way to track battery usage.  Pulling off the sticker allows the battery to be activated, or “come alive”. Once you activate the battery, there is no way to stop it from draining.
Q: Will putting the stickers back on the batteries when the hearing aids are off save the batteries?
A: NO!  DO NOT DO THIS.  All that will happen is that you will confuse yourself about which batteries are new and which ones are old, and then you will think your batteries aren’t lasting as long as they should be or they were before.
Q: Should I keep my batteries in the refrigerator to prolong their life?
A: No.  Keeping your hearing aid batteries in the refrigerator will NOT prolong their shelf life.  Most zinc-air batteries have a shelf life of up to about 3 years (check the date on the package before you buy).  Also, the hearing aid batteries can be affected by moisture so the refrigerator is not the best place for them.  Keep them in a dresser drawer or nightstand or somewhere.
Q: My hearing healthcare professional told me not to change my batteries at the same time I am taking medication.  Why?
A: Well, I know it sounds silly because a battery is metal and silver and most medications are white or blue or red or whatever color they are.  But they are ALL small round things, and if you don’t have your glasses on or aren’t paying close attention it is very easy to accidentally mix the two up.  This can be very dangerous as batteries are toxic.  If you ingest a battery, you need to call a poison control center or the ER immediately.  The American Association of Poison Control Center number is: 1-800-222-1222.
Q: Are hearing aid batteries really toxic?
A: Yes, they are, especially to small children and pets.  It is very important that you keep your batteries out of reach of children and pets and contact poison control or an emergency vet immediately if your children, grandchildren, dog, cat, etc swallow your batteries.  Hide them, keep them out of reach, put them somewhere that only you or another responsible adult can get to them.
Q: My local drugstore is famous for running hearing aid battery blowout specials.  Is it a good idea to stock up then?
A: As I mentioned before, the shelf life on hearing aid batteries is usually about 3 years.  Every package of batteries will have a printed expiration date on them.  Before you purchase a large quantity of batteries just because they are a good deal, be sure to check the expiration dates on them.  If they are on sale and it seems “too good to be true”, they are probably nearing their expiration date.  Just to be clear, the expired batteries WILL probably still work, but do not expect them to give you the same amount of wearing time as a battery that is NOT expired.
Q: I’ve gone through whole packages of batteries that don’t work.  Is there something wrong with the batteries or the hearing aids?
A: This one can go either way.  I would say try 2-3 batteries from a package.  If you don’t get any response from your hearing aid, then take it in to your hearing healthcare professional.  It could be that your hearing aid isn’t working properly, and every once in a while you may get a “bad” pack of batteries.

 

Until next time,

Dr. Kristin

Mike