Hearing aids are getting more and more advanced. With all the extra processing power and new features in today’s hearing aids, you can typically get 3-10 days off a single battery. Why is the life of a hearing aid battery so unpredictable, where one battery may last a week, and another just two or three days? Much depends on your amount of hearing aid use, streaming, and how you care for your hearing aids.
Still, there are steps you can take to maximize the life of your batteries and optimize the performance of your hearing aids.
1. Let the battery “breathe” for 3-5 minutes. After removing the tab from the battery, let the battery sit for 3-5 minutes before installing it in your hearing aid. This “activation” time allows air to reach the materials inside the battery and activate them.
2. Wash your hands thoroughly before changing batteries. Grease and dirt on the batteries may damage the hearing aid. Also, grease and dirt can clog up the air pores in the battery.
3. Open the battery door at night. When you’re not wearing your hearing aid, turn it off or open the battery door to minimize battery drain. Leave the battery compartment of your hearing device open at night so moisture can escape. Doing so will keep the battery from corroding and damaging the hearing aid.
4. Use a hearing aid dehumidifier. A hearing aid dehumidifier will help absorb moisture out of your hearing aid and battery. This will allow the battery power to be used more efficiently. The dehumidifier is also a great place to store your hearing aids.
5. Remove the batteries entirely if you won’t be using the device for an extended period of time. This also helps avoid corrosion and damage from trapped moisture.
6. Check the expiration date on the batteries. The further out the batteries are, the fresher they are. Over time, batteries will drain slightly while sitting on the shelf. Ideally, you should buy batteries that have an expiration date a year or further from your purchase date.
7. Use the oldest pack of batteries first. The newest packs will have the furthest expiration date than your older packs of batteries. You want to ensure that you use the oldest batteries first, so that you are getting the most life out of them.
8. Keep the stickers on the battery. The sticker tab on the battery keeps the battery “fresh.” As soon as the sticker is removed, the battery is activated and starts draining. You want to make sure you don’t peel the sticker tab off until you need to use that battery.
9. Keep the batteries in a cool dry place. Storing new, unused batteries in extreme temperatures can cause the battery to drain/have a shorter life.
10. Invest in a rechargeable battery hearing device. Rechargeable hearing aids and batteries are starting to come out into the market. Rechargeable batteries allow you to charge the battery at night and get a full day’s worth of use the next day. If you’re interested in the new technology, make an appointment to discuss the various rechargeable options currently available on the market.
While hearing aids and cochlear implants are better known options for assisting those with hearing impairments, there is another device that may be more appropriate for your hearing loss. A BAHD, also known as a bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA), is made up of a surgically implanted portion and a removable external processor. These devices are unique in that they send signals to your inner ear via vibrations. These vibrations are interpreted by your inner ear the same as any other sound signal.
As you can see in the above below, the sound processor sits just behind the ear.
Who is a candidate for the bone-anchored hearing device?
Patients with middle ear issues (chronic ear infections, previous surgeries, etc.) are often successful users of a BAHD because it bypasses the middle ear and directly stimulates the inner ear. The device is also beneficial for those with single-sided deafness. The BAHD is placed on the side of the head with the severe-to-profound hearing loss and the signal is sent to the better hearing ear.
New options with the BAHD!
Previously, the BAHD could only be worn by attaching it to an abutment that projected out from under the skin or by wearing a headband. There is now an option for attaching the external processor to the internal implant via a magnet. The image on the left demonstrates the magnet attachment.
In addition to the new wearing options, BAHDs have Bluetooth capabilities!
If you and your family are interested in learning more about BAHDs and want to know if you are a possible candidate, please do not hesitate to contact our clinic at 904-399-0350.
If you or a loved one has a cochlear implant there is no need to miss out on the joys of enjoying time with friends or family in the pool or at the beach. Each cochlear implant company offers a solution to enjoy conversation around water.
o For their on-the-ear style processors (N6 and N7)Cochlear offers the Aqua Kit which includes a waterproof case and cable/coil. A clip is also available to attach the waterproof case to a ponytail, bathing suit or T-shirt for worry free swimming.
o The off-the-ear style offers the Kanso Activity Kit which includes a waterproof case that can be held in place with a sweat band or with goggles.
• Advanced Bionics:
o The Naida processor offers a waterproof case and cable/headpiece that can be clipped to a bathing suit, T-shirt or even your swim trunks thanks to a range of cable lengths.
o The Neptune processor is a fully waterproof processor that needs no extra case or cover. The Neptune can be clipped to a T-shirt, goggles or bathing suit.
• Med El:
o The on-the ear Sonnet processor kit includes a waterproof sleeve and adhesive system to allow the processor to become fully waterproof.
o The Rondo is an off-the-ear processor that is also available with a sleeve that can be held in place with a clip for added safety.
When using a waterproof solution be sure to use a rechargeable or alkaline battery rather than the 675 Zinc Air cochlear implant battery. It I also recommended that after you remove your processor from the waterproof case to place the equipment in the dry-kit. Waterproof devices can be included in your initial cochlear implant kit or are available for purchase out of pocket.
If you would like more information regarding whether a cochlear implant is an appropriate treatment option for your hearing loss contact Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute at 904-399-0350 to discuss your options.
If you are a full-time hearing aid user, you may have experienced a time when your devices have suddenly stopped working. While it is typical for hearing aids to require repairs periodically, there are some things you can try at home to get yourself back up and running.
Below, you will find some common hearing aid problems, possible causes and steps to remedy the situation.
|The volume is reduced
||Wax or debris in the microphone or receiver
||Clean microphone port with a brush
|Change wax filter
|Tube or ear mold is blocked
||Clean the ear mold and blow the tube out with an air blower
|Hearing may have changed
||Contact your audiologist
|Hearing aid is whistling
||Hearing aid/earmold is not properly inserted
||Take hearing aid out and reposition correctly
|Earmold is defective
||Contact your audiologist
|Wax in ear canal
||Contact your ENT-specialist
|Hearing aid does not properly function
||Battery is dead
|Battery compartment is not closed properly
||Close battery compartment completely
|Wax or debris in the microphone or receiver
||Clean microphone port with a brush
|Change wax filter
|Hearing aid causes pain or discomfort
||Hearing aid/earmold is not properly inserted
||Reposition correctly. If problem persists, contact your audiologist.
If you are unable to solve the problem, contact your audiologist at (904) 399-0350 ext 246 for more assistance or stop by Walk-In Clinic: Tuesday, 10:00 am – 11:30 am or Thursday, 1:00 pm- 2:30 pm.
We strive to provide prompt service to our patients; therefore we recommend that you call ahead to verify availability of walk-in clinic.
Frequency Asked Questions about Lithium-Ion Batteries in Hearing Aids
- Is a lithium-ion battery safe in hearing aids?
Lithium-ion is the popular rechargeable battery choice used in many everyday consumer electronics such as cellular phones and tablets. It is also the rechargeable solution for cochlear implants. Currently, it is the fastest growing and most promising battery technology and has been thoroughly tested. Note that the hearing aid must be stored within the operating temperature of 33 degs to 104 degs Fahrenheit (0 degs to +40 degs Celsius) to ensure safe conditions.
- How many hours per day can lithium-ion hearing aids last on a single charge?
This depends on the hearing loss, the power of the receiver, and the amount of streaming. However, this usually ranges from 20 hours to 24 hours.
- Will the performance of the lithium-ion battery deteriorate after 1 year and require replacing?
No. With the Phonak system, the electronics surrounding the lithium-ion battery have been specially designed so that the battery will last up to 4 years. After 4 years, the performance of the battery may deteriorate slightly, but this should not have a large impact on use.
- Are lithium-ion hearing aids safe to use during air travel?
Yes. Airline rules state that lithium-ion batteries less than 25 grams may be brought on to the plane in carry-on luggage. Phonak rechargeable hearing aid batteries are less than 1 gram and therefore fall far below the dangerous goods level. Commercial airline regulations do not permit lithium-ion batteries to be placed in checked luggage.
- How do I dispose of a lithium-ion hearing aid?
Lithium-ion batteries are 100% recyclable and can be used to create new products. If you wish to dispose of the hearing aid, please return it to your audiologist or contact Phonak for more information.
Advancements in Cochlear Implant Technology
In recent years, technology has become available that has allowed hearing aid users to connect their hearing devices directly to their Apple IPhone. This technology has allowed users to stream phone calls, stream media, and use their phone as a remote control without the need for an extra piece of equipment (neck worn device, etc.). Unfortunately, this option has not been available for cochlear implant users. However, with the release of Cochlear Americas’ Nucleus 7 sound processor, this is now a great option for IPhone and Cochlear Americas implant users.
But what about users without iPhones?!
Not to worry, there are still those “in-between” devices that will allow users to connect to their cell phones with Bluetooth. These types of devices are available to users of all three of the cochlear implant companies with which we work (Advanced Bionics, Cochlear Americas, and MED-EL).
If you or a loved one are a cochlear implant user looking to upgrade technology or if you are someone suffering from hearing loss and believe the cochlear implant may be the best solution for your hearing needs, contact our clinic at 904-399-0350.
The Phonak Belong Platform: An Overview
Last week Phonak launched their ‘Made for All’ direct connect hearing aid, the Audeo B-Direct. Using a new proprietary 2.4 GHz radio chip these devices allow users to stream phone calls directly to any cell phone with Bluetooth without an intermediary device. Current technology from other hearing aid manufacturers allows only users of an Apple phone the ability to stream phone calls. The Made for All technology will allow Android, iOS or other Bluetooth cell phone users access to hands-free phone use. By utilizing built-in microphones as a voice pick-up feature, the Audeo B-Direct is able to function like a wireless Bluetooth headset. Once a phone call is received by the user, they are able to answer calls with a push of a button on the hearing aid. At this time, streaming of the phone call is only heard on the user’s preferred side, not to both devices. Patients will also have the ability to balance environment noise when background noise is present by either using the volume control on their phone or directly on their hearing aids. Using a streaming protocol called AirstreamTM Technology, the new TV Connecter from Phonak offers a “plug and play” solution that turns Audeo B-Direct hearing aids into wireless TV headphones. This device allows users to stream content from their TV without having to wear a body-worn streamer and is capable of streaming to multiple hearing aid wearers at the same time.
Virto B Biometric Calibration:
Another recent launch from Phonak is the use of Biometric Calibration in Virto B custom hearing aids. Using 3-D modeling software 1,600 biometric data points are identified from an earmold impression and are used to calculate calibration settings that are unique to each user. This technology allows individual ear anatomy and its effects on the acoustics of the incoming sound to be accounted for which provides a 2dB improvement in directionality. Another available option is the Virto B- Titanium invisible in the ear (IIC) option, which is made from medical grade titanium. Titanium is stronger and thinner than acrylic, allowing for significantly reduced device size.
Audeo B-R and Bolero-PR Rechargeable Options:
Phonak continues to offer a built-in rechargeable device option (Audeo B-R and Bolero B-PR). With a single charge, the device is powered for up to 24 hours. Smart charging options are also available, which allow on the go users to charge from anywhere, without having to worry about running out of power.
If you or someone you love is noticing hearing difficulties and would like to discuss hearing aid options, contact The Hearing Center at JHBI at (904) 399-0350 ext 246 to schedule an appointment to speak with an Audiologist about your options!
Boosting Your Hearing Aid Performance with Wireless Technology
Even with the best hearing aids, it can still be difficult to enjoy your favorite song or your favorite TV show, or hear a speaker clearly in a business meeting or at a restaurant. It may even still be difficult to hear someone talking to you on the phone. Over the past 10+ years, hearing aid manufacturers have developed wireless accessories to accompany hearing aids. These devices can be used in even the most complex listening environments. Today, some hearing aids will even connect directly to iPhones. Below is a list of outlined accessories and their uses as well as more information regarding direct connectivity options.
Several hearing aid manufacturers now offer direct-to-iPhone hearing aid options. Starkey, Oticon, Resound, and Widex hearing aids can be connected via bluetooth straight to your cell phone and most apple devices! Each manufacturer has their own free, downloadable, and user-friendly app which can control your hearing aids, including volume control, program changes, and some even allow you to control the directionality of your microphones in different listening situations. Phone calls are streamed directly to your hearing aids; your music, a video, a movie, anything streaming on your phone…that’s right! It goes straight to your hearing aids! They have now become wireless headphones!
Cell Phone Accessories:
With the technology of bluetooth, connecting your world to your hearing aids has become easier than ever. Several manufacturers offer wireless accessories that either clip to your lapel or hang around your neck. These intermediary devices allow your cell phone to talk directly to your hearing aids. As long as you are wearing your clip-on or your neck loop, your phone calls can stream directly to your hearing aids, as well as any other audio streaming from your cell phone. All it takes is a simple pairing procedure which your audiologist can help with!
With a TV Link, you will have the audio from the TV streaming directly into your hearing aids. All you have to do is hook up the accessory to your TV. Enjoy the comfort of listening to your favorite show at the volume you prefer while your loved ones can still enjoy the show at their preferred volume. Most TV Links require an intermediary device, however, which connects to the hearing aids and the TV Link then connects to the intermediary device.
Many manufacturers make accessory options in the form of a remote microphone. Remote microphones significantly improve the signal-to-noise ratio in noisy environments. Although most hearing aids at all technology levels reduce background noise levels in noisy environments to some degree, a remote microphone brings the speaker’s voice directly to the hearing aid users’ ears. The speaker wears the remote microphone and the listener wears an intermediary device which streams the signal to the listener’s hearing aids. This makes for exceptional speech understanding in noise and better understanding over longer distances. Some remote microphones can transmit to the users’ hearing aids from up to 80 feet away!
If you would like to learn more about these devices for your hearing aids and learn what your options are, schedule a hearing aid consult with an audiologist today! They should be able to answer any questions you might have! Just call: 904-399-0350
Congratulations! You should consider your decision to purchase hearing aids to be a smart investment of both your time and money. As you continue to get used to your new devices, you will likely develop a strong bond with your hearing aids, and will want to be without them as infrequently as possible. It is important that you develop a basic hearing aid maintenance plan that you routinely follow to ensure peak performance of your devices. You should also be familiar with common causes of hearing aid damage so that you can avoid exposing your hearing aids to hazardous conditions (although even the most meticulous hearing aid wearer will need a repair at some point in time!)
Damage to Hearing Aids: What to Expect
Moisture and earwax are two of the most common causes of hearing aid damage. It is estimated that as many as 75% of the hearing aid repairs seen in our office are related to these two items.
- Earwax: Although the degree to which a hearing aid is exposed to earwax is determined more by body chemistry than good cleaning practices, cleaning your hearing aid regularly with a lint free cloth or hearing aid cleaning wipe will limit the problems resulting from earwax. Cleaning your hearing aid with a solvent or household cleaner is not recommended and can result in damage to the hearing aid casing or components.
- Moisture: Moisture problems related to the environment are difficult to avoid, and the use of a hearing aid drying system (discussed below) is the best solution for this. To avoid accidental moisture damage, avoid storing your hearing aids in your bathroom or kitchen where moisture levels are high. We recommend storing in the original case on your dresser or nightstand. In addition, posting a note on your shower door can help prevent accidentally wearing your hearing aid into the shower.
- Other: Other common reasons hearing aids become damaged include:
- Pets (many pets love to chew hearing aids)
- Hairspray or other hair products
- Dropping the hearing aid
- Incorrect battery insertion
- Exposure to excessive heat (being left inside a car, etc)
Hearing Aid Care Products
Routine Care = Longer Hearing Aid Life and Better Hearing Aid Performance
There are many products designed to help you care for your hearing aids. Listed below are some of our most commonly recommended products:
- Hearing Aid Dryers (Desiccant jars): Basic dry jars cost as little as $10.00. More sophisticated electric dryers are also available for purchase and contain UV lamps which have antimicrobial benefits.
- Cleaning Wipes: Wipes designed specifically for use with hearing aids help control wax build-up.
- Tubing Blowers: Tubing blowers are used to clean the tubing of behind-the-ear hearing aids. This also helps with moisture build-up which often occurs in hearing aid tubing, which may help reduce how often tubing needs to be changed.
Establishing a good maintenance plan is an essential part of your hearing aid journey and will help ensure that your hearing aid functions at peak performance for many years to come. If you are unsure of cleaning procedures for your hearing aid or are in need of a hearing aid repair, make an appointment with your audiologist to discuss the proper plan for you and your hearing aids!
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
There is no doubt that the men and women of our armed services sacrifice so much to keep our country safe. They readily put themselves in harm’s way and often suffer long-term physical and emotional consequences as a result. One common outcome to years of service, surrounded by the loud sounds of gunfire, explosions, engine noise and machinery, is something called noise-induced hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) refers to a permanent, usually high frequency, hearing loss that typically begins in a “notch” formation and spreads to affect more of the individual’s hearing. To learn more about NIHL, check out one of our earlier blogs on the topic.
NIHL and Combat
What is important to know about NIHL is that it is preventable. For the average person, simply avoiding loud situations or using adequate hearing protection is enough to protect your ears from permanent damage. Unfortunately, the issue is a little more complicated for our soldiers. Often times, a solider may find him or herself in a situation of sudden, unexpected noise, such as gunfire, and not have time to put in hearing protection. Wearing hearing protection continually is also not an option because he or she needs to hear orders from commanding officers, communications from other soldiers, and also be aware of his or her surroundings. For those reasons, many of our soldiers have simply gone without adequate protection and as a result, have suffered permanent hearing damage. As this trend becomes more and more prevalent, experts in the fields of hearing loss and hearing conservation have worked together to find a way to protect our soldiers and their ears at that same time. This has led to the introduction of what is called adaptive or digital hearing protection.
Adaptive Hearing Protection
The U.S. Army has developed a hearing protection system called the Tactical Communication and Protective System (TCAPS), which is already being dispensed to the men and women of our armed forces. The TCAPS system is a clever combination of amplification and noise protection that works to allow the user to hear quiet and average sounds at an audible level and reduce the impact of loud sounds using noise-canceling technology, to a safe level.
Those in charge of the TCAPS initiative are confident that the devices will result in fewer veterans with service related hearing loss. Approximately 20,000 units have already been introduced in active duty and the real-life applicability is being tracked closely. In order to be successful, TCAPS must protect our soldiers from loud impact sounds while still allowing them to hear everything they need to hear to keep themselves and their fellow soldiers safe on the battlefield.
For more information on hearing protection options and ways to protect your own hearing, make an appointment to talk to your audiologist at JHBI today.