Sometimes it is difficult for people to try new things. To change habits. To trust new technology. I thought I would try and set some of you at ease. Let’s talk about the power source of hearing aids.
Everyone is comfortable with the use of batteries in hearing aids. After all, we use batteries in so many different items. They are pretty much foolproof. If they are good batteries, you put them in and the products work. Simple. Over the years, rechargeable batteries have surfaced for many appliances and in recent years, even hand tools. Flashlights, weed eaters, drills, shop vac’, even lawn mowers can be powered effectively by rechargeable batteries.
So what about hearing instruments? Such a tiny device with very little room to house extra components took a little longer for the manufacturers to produce an effective product. Back in the mid 1980’s, Electone, a hearing aid company from Winter Park, developed a charging box that you could place the hearing aids in and flip a switch to charge the aids. It took several hours but it was a great product and especially helpful for people who could not see to change batteries. It was used for custom in-the-ear products. Eventually, the owner retired and the company went out of business.
About seven or eight years ago, many of the major hearing aid manufacturers first used a product called Z-Power. This was a silver-zinc rechargeable cell. This system allowed the user to interchange the rechargeable cell with a regular hearing aid battery. While it had some drawbacks due to the limited hours that it could power the hearing aids.. it did make the industry stand up and take notice that hearing aid users liked the idea of not changing batteries. Some manufacturers still use this system.
A drawback is that the cell only lasts about a year and therefore has to be replaced annually.
In 2016, Starkey Hearing Technologies released their wireless hearing aids with a lithium ion rechargeable system. It has been a huge hit. They are reliable, easy to use and convenient. The charge lasts for about 20 hours, even with heavy streaming. Their charging system box also has an onboard charger in it. Thus, if we should lose power the charging box itself will provide enough juice to give you hearing aid use for about six days. This is important as many people in Florida worry about hurricanes and power outages.
So how long do they last before they won’t recharge anymore? Starkey Hearing Technology relays to us that the lithium ion battery cells in the hearing aids and in the chargers should last five years before needing to be replaced. We are at four years of use for many of our patients with very minimal maintenance. All indications are that they are correct on their estimations.
The chargers and the hearing aids can then be sent in for a cell replacement. You do not have to purchase new hearing aids just to get new rechargeable cells.
As technology progresses and hearing aids move from wireless technology to Bluetooth, Starkey Hearing Technologies released the World’s First Bluetooth Healthable Hearing system. This is a system that uses AI sensors (Artificial Intelligence) to provide the best hearing and health tracking information on the market. In January of this year, Starkey gave us another industry first with the release of The Livio EDGE CUSTOM Lithium Ion Rechargeable Hearing Healthable System.
Since January we have been fitting patients with custom in-the-ear and in-the-canal Bluetooth Lithium ion rechargeable hearing devices. This makes streaming phone calls and audio directly to your cell phones a no brainer! You answer your phone normally and the phone call magically is heard in both ears without even placing the phone near the hearing aid. It is the very best hearing you can get on the cell phone. (All iPhones 8 and newer, as well as Samsung Galaxy 10, 10S and Google Pixel 3 and 4 are compatible). Whatever style you prefer, Starkey has a rechargeable solution available. They are a convenient and reliable alternative to changing batteries.
Everyone should have your hearing checked annually. Have you? Call today and make that appointment. To Hear Better Is To Live Better!
Roseann B. Kiefer, B.A., BC-HIS, is owner of Lampe and Kiefer Hearing Aid Center, Sebring. This information is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure your condition. Always talk to your doctor before following any medical advice or starting a diet or exercise program.