People who wear hearing aids have been asking for rechargeable aids for years. As a child, I can remember having a “battery drawer” at home because so many things needed to have the batteries replaced regularly. This is simply not the case any longer. For most hearing aid users changing and using a hearing aid battery is not difficult. However, in the 21st century, our phones, computers, and so many other things are rechargeable, so it was not unreasonable for people to wonder why hearing aids could not be rechargeable as well.
The advanced technology within hearing aids requires precise energy requirements. Things like voltage and amperage usage have to remain at a constant state. Meaning, any major fluctuations can and will damage the micro-processors within. Plus, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries provide a more stable power source to the hearing aids, making them perform better.
This is why it took several years for the industry to make rechargeable hearing aids a reality. And when initially produced, the first generation of rechargeable aids did not perform reliably. The good news is, we now have a very reliable lithium-ion battery technology.
There are many benefits to rechargeable hearing aids over traditional battery-powered aids. However, as an audiologist, two stand out to me as most significant for my patients. These things make the daily use of aids much simpler.
The first is the convenience. The patient doesn’t have to change the batteries.
Secondly, once the hearing aids are charged, taking just three to four hours, the aids will work for 24 up to 30 hours, depending on the model. This is important because the hearing aids won’t inconveniently stop working in the middle of the day. As a result, the patient doesn’t lose the benefit of their aids while doing things they want or need to hear.
A few more benefits would include no longer having to purchase batteries, the batteries don’t have to be changed at an inconvenient place or time, and the wearer doesn’t have to power on and off the aids.
And, for those patients who have difficulty manipulating tiny batteries due to vision problems, arthritis, or neuropathy, rechargeable hearing aids go beyond just being more convenient. They make it possible for people to use their aids with little or no assistance from others.
I often tell people, wearing rechargeable hearing aids is like wearing glasses. You take them out of the case and put them on as you start your day, then you take them off and put them back in the case at the end of the day, or anytime you’re doing something you wouldn’t wear hearing aids for – such as showering.
It is worth mentioning in the time it’s taken us to get reliable rechargeable hearing aids, the hearing aid technology itself has also improved significantly. Background suppression, Bluetooth connectivity, and microphone technology have improved significantly in just the last three years. So, if your hearing aids are several years old, rechargeable aids would not only give you the advantages of rechargeability but also better sound quality, greater ability to assist in noisy environments, and the ability to connect to a smartphone to help maximize your phone conversations with friends or family.
Rechargeable technology is not available in all hearing aid styles, but it is inevitable it will be soon.
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