Is there a way I can tell if decreased battery life is a hearing aid problem or a true battery problem?
Short life is where the hearing aid has stopped working completely before the normal battery life expectancy. If a patient has recently received a new hearing aid, they may be used to receiving a certain amount of battery life from their previous aid, but may not have understood that a new aid could potentially have other features or circuitry that would drain the battery more quickly their previous device. If the patient has, in fact, received a new hearing aid, we want to talk to them about battery life expectancy. No two hearing aids are alike. Give them a pack of batteries and have them keep track of how long each one lasts so they understand that their new device will have a different battery life expectancy than the previous aid.
If the aid is not new, talk about any recent setting or prescription changes. If programming modifications have recently been made, advise them that battery life can change with different programming.
If the hearing aid settings have not changed, look at the battery cell itself and see if there are scratches from the hearing aid battery contacts. If you have been in practice for a while, you may have seen small scratches on the battery. The contacts within the aid have to scratch the surface of the cell to make a good contact and work well. If you do not see those scratches on the contacts, examine the size of the battery and look for potential swelling. The battery compartment is very tight. Make sure that those contacts have not been expanded due to swelling of a battery or simply a different type of battery being put in there. If there is an issue with the contacts, handle that with repair, but understand that truly is not a battery issue, but a hearing aid contact issue.
If there is good contact with the battery, have a discussion with the patient about their noise environment. We now that fluctuating sound environments or spending more time in demanding environments can also alter the battery requirements.
If the listening conditions have not changed, talk to the patient about the weather conditions. Has it been very hot or cold recently? Ask how they are storing the batteries. Excess humidity can make the battery can take up moisture which can shorten the battery life. Dryness can shorten the battery life because the battery is giving up some of the moisture that it needs to function properly, as well.
If you have gone through this series of questions and have not come to any conclusions, then return the defective battery or package to the manufacturer. It is critical for us as a manufacturer to do an investigation. Give your patients fresh batteries in the meantime so that you know they will have an optimal listening experience.
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.