I recently moved from Utah to Florida and have noticed differences in my patients' reports of battery life. Can there really be a difference in battery life that is attributable to climate, or should I check my programming settings?
This is a good question. Zinc-air cells are sensitive to environmental conditions, such as temperature and the presence or absence of humidity, both of which have changed for you. For example, if you live in a very dry climate, the batteries can dry out more quickly. The opposite effect could also happen with high humidity. Batteries will absorb moisture through the holes in the battery, which can shorten life and lead to leakage.
As temperature is reduced, hearing aid battery voltage is lowered, reaching its endpoint earlier; in other words, it reduces battery life. As altitude increases, the percentage of oxygen in the air is reduced. If you are up in the mountains, there is less oxygen in the air, and that will potentially cause the battery to reach its endpoint earlier. If you combine altitude with low temperature, it can be even more extreme.
Another factor that affects battery life is an individual’s hearing aid usage. How many days a week do they wear their hearing aid? We all know some patients wear their hearing aid religiously every day, yet we know others who might only wear their hearing aid on Sunday morning for an hour. When talking to patients about battery life, use a common measurement of time, such as hours instead of days, to get an accurate picture of battery life.
The newest hearing aids are now completely digital and have more advanced processing features and available accessories, including wireless options. This shift in the market leads to more demanding power usage, which translates to fewer hours of battery life. Premium features like looping, FM, tinnitus programs, wireless, Bluetooth, and of some settings intended to give the patient a better a better experience, like a low battery warning, all require additional energy. When in use, they can increase the current draw up to 300%, further reducing battery life.
We recommend refraining from giving your patients specific life expectancy numbers, because it ultimately sets them up with expectations that might not be met. You need to work with them individually to determine battery life, and the best way to do this is to have them track their individual battery performance over time.
This Ask the Expert was taken from the webinar presented by Kevin Kouba, MBA and Ann Rule, MBA. To see the complete recorded course, go here.