In May, we spoke about hearing aid innovations with Denis Carpenter, the director of technology, who has worked with Rayovac for 37 years. He expressed that many people still have misconceptions about hearing aids and hearing loss in general. Helping people hear is an important Rayovac commitment, and we want to clear up any common misconceptions about hearing aids, hearing aid batteries and hearing loss.
Myth 1: Only the elderly have hearing problems
Truth: Hearing loss can affect anyone at any point in their life. About 48 million Americans report some degree of hearing loss, and more than 10 million people in the United States have permanent hearing loss from loud noises. Another 30 million Americans are exposed to harmful noise levels every day. And although the generalization that hearing loss is an elderly problem has some merit, because one out of three 65 year olds has a hearing impairment, this ailment is far more widespread than a single demographic. Roughly 30 percent of Americans between ages 50 and 59 have some degree of hearing impairment, and about 5.2 million children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years old have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive noise exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Myth 2: Hearing aids always restore full hearing
Truth: Hearing loss is unique to each person, and the amount of hearing that hearing aids can restore is unique to each user, too. Hearing aids are not like glasses, which can often restore a wearer’s vision back to “perfect.” The amount of hearing someone regains depends on the extent of their hearing loss, and the type of device they use. Perhaps for one person the restored hearing is the equivalent of perfect, but for someone else the device just lets them hear a bit better than before. However, this gap is narrowing. New hearing aid devices are getting better and better, year after year. And as the devices become better, so will the restoration possibilities people can tap into.
Myth 3: Loud noise is the only cause of hearing loss
Truth: Loud noise is the most common cause of hearing loss, but it’s not the only cause. There are many other contributors, including aging, a poor diet, diabetes, genetics, medication side effects, smoking and trauma. All of these conditions break down and destroy the hair cells in the inner ear, which are what transmits soundwaves to the brain. We’re born with a specific amount of these hair cells, and once they’re damaged or destroyed it permanently affects our hearing capabilities.
Myth 4: Hearing aids let in too much excess noise
Truth: When hearing aids transitioned from analog devices to digital ones, engineers gained the option to acutely modify incoming sound and how those noises are transmitted to the ear. This sound manipulation comes with more sophisticated directional microphones that can automatically amplify some sounds, while muffling or muting others. Let’s say a child is genetically hearing impaired and a sound wave enters her ear. The device interacts with the soundwave and an algorithm determines the noise is too quiet and it needs to be made louder so she can hear it. Analog devices could accomplish this amplification. However, analog aids increased the volume of everything, which made it more painful her already-loud sounds. The solution is eliminating excess background noise and programming hearing aids to siphon the important noises to the forefront. So contrary to the myth, modern devices actually handle excess background noise very well.
Myth 5: You should store your hearing aid batteries in the refrigerator
Truth: Hearing aid batteries should be stored at room temperature. Like alkaline batteries, storing a zinc air battery in the refrigerator may actually harm the battery. The zinc air battery has holes in the top to allow maximum airflow, and if you put them in the refrigerator then condensation forms on the battery casing and moisture drips into the air holes. The moisture fills up the battery which ultimately can lead to premature battery failure.
Myth 6: A Hearing Aid Battery’s life is the same for everyone
Truth: Much like hearing aid performance and hearing restoration, hearing aid battery life is different for everyone. Many factors affect how long a hearing aid battery will last including battery size, aid usage, type of device, temperature, humidity and more. To learn more about to get optimal hearing aid battery performance, visit our hearing aid battery facts page.
Myth 7: You can put your hearing aid battery in the device right after it’s un-tabbed
Truth: You should let you hearing aid battery sit un-tabbed for one minute before placing it into your hearing aid. This step allows air to enter which is critical for use. The hearing aid battery is activated when the zinc within the battery mixes with the air from the environment. To learn more about hearing health, hearing aids and hearing aid batteries, visit Rayovac’s hearing aid resource center.