Ask the Audiologist: Is There a Rechargeable Hearing Aid?
The short answer is yes! In fact, there are many rechargeable hearing solutions on the market. The bigger question is: How do you choose the right one for you?
Not all rechargeable batteries are created equal
There are three kinds of rechargeable batteries. When it comes to hearing aid use especially, one option outperforms the others:
- Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) cells are a proven type of rechargeable battery. They can be exchanged for zinc-air batteries in hearing aids, just in case they run out and you need to fill in with disposables. One drawback of NiMH batteries is that their capacity is limited, so they are better suited for uses in hearing aids fit for milder hearing losses.
- Silver-zinc (AgZn) batteries last longer than NiMH cells on a single charge. However, they are not interchangeable with disposable zinc-air batteries. They can only be used in dedicated hearing aids with a down-converter, so these hearing aids tend to be larger.
- Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries can run an electronic device for a long time even under high energy demands. Li-Ion batteries allow for a rapid charging mode and don’t show memory effects. Li-ion batteries can remain sealed in your hearing aids for their entire lifetime, completely eliminating the need to change batteries – a relief for individuals with dexterity or vision limitations. This also reduces the likelihood of small children or pets accidentally swallowing batteries, which can be extremely hazardous to their health.
Two methods of (re)charging hearing aids
Most conventional chargers use galvanic charging, which requires electronic contacts on a cradle to physically touch their counterparts on the hearing aids in order to charge.
Wireless, or inductive charging eliminates cables, connectors, and electrodes on the hearing aids. Inductive charging works via electromagnetic induction, and allows for a completely sealed battery module. This offers many advantages, including:
- No need to align charging contacts
- No hassling with opening and closing a battery door
- No electronic contacts that can collect dirt and debris
- Improved water, sweat, and dust-resistance
Which rechargeable hearing aid is right for you?
While rechargeability is an important feature to consider, don’t let it overshadow the main reason for your hearing aid purchase. Your priority should always be finding the hearing aids that help you hear as well as you can in as many situations in your life as possible, and also best fit your lifestyle. Ask your hearing care professional about all the great features and options available in the regular or rechargeable hearing aids they recommend for you.