Aging is not the only cause of hearing loss. The amount of noise exposure someone has over his or her lifetime is also a factor that contributes to the amount of hearing loss an individual has. Noise exposure is most commonly thought of as only work-related. However, we experience noise everywhere. Social settings and household items can also be sources of noise exposure.

Social settings such as restaurants, theaters and gyms can be very noisy. The volume level of the noise and amount of time spent in that environment can have varying effects on a person’s hearing abilities. The louder the noise level and the longer the exposure, the greater the chances are of someone acquiring permanent hearing loss. In those environments, it is best to try to sit in a quieter area.

At home, there are many items that are used often that produce a great amount of noise exposure. Some items include the TV, hair dryer and yard equipment such as a lawn mower, edger, weed eater and leaf blower. Some of that equipment can cause permanent hearing loss in less than 20 minutes of use if hearing protection is not used.  By using proper hearing protection, individuals can use loud equipment for a longer period of time with less risk of permanent hearing loss.

There is one main aspect that differentiates single-sided deafness and unilateral hearing loss. It is the degree of hearing loss. When an individual has one ear that has normal hearing and the other ear has profound (or no hearing ability) hearing loss, it is said that the individual had single-sided deafness. When an individual has one ear that has normal hearing and the other has only a small amount of hearing loss, not complete deafness, it is said that they have a unilateral hearing loss.

After proper evaluations have been completed, unilateral hearing loss and single-sided deafness can be treated with hearing devices. When someone has hearing loss in only one ear, that individual can use a single hearing aid in that ear, They would not need a device in the other ear because it has normal hearing.

With the case of single-sided deafness, a regular hearing aid would not be helpful because that ear is no longer able to hear the amplification. An individual with single sided-deafness would be able to use a set of devices called a CROS. CROS stands for Contralateral Routing Of Signal. The devices would do exactly what the name implies. The individual would wear one device on the ear with normal hearing and it would receive a signal from a device on the ear with the deafness. The device on the ear with the deafness does not provide amplification to the deaf ear, it wirelessly sends the sounds that it picks up from it’s microphones over to the “contralateral” device on the normal hearing ear. That allows for the individual to hear sounds and conversations happening on their deaf ear side all in their normal hearing ear.

Hearing aids are essentially mini computers that evaluate complex environments, process sound and apply amplification to account for an individual’s hearing loss. The microchip inside of the hearing aid is susceptible to environmental factors such as moisture just as any other computer or electronic device would be.

While some hearing aid manufactures aim to take preventative measures against moisture, they can’t prevent all moisture from getting into the devices. Many devices now have special seals around open ports and a coating on the entire device to help prevent moisture from entering the hearing aid. Hearing devices need certain ports open so sound can enter into the hearing aid and also so the sound can leave the device to travel into the individual’s ear. Once moisture does enter into the device, it will begin to corrode the components inside. It is usually a slow process, but eventually components of the hearing aids will begin to malfunction.

The best way to help prevent excessive moisture from corroding the components in the hearing aids is to help draw out the moisture from the device. For example, the devices can be placed inside of a hearing aid dryer. Hearing aid dryers have several forms. There are dryers with desiccant beads, dry bricks and UV lights. Each kind is effective to a different degree. The desiccant beads can be recharged in the microwave as they begin to collect the moisture but the beads are not as effective as the dry bricks or the UV light. The dry bricks need to be replaced every few months, but they can draw out more moisture than the beads. The UV light is the most effective and also least expensive over time. The UV light will last for a very long time so there is no need to purchase replacement parts or to recharge the components. When the hearing aids are consistently placed in a dryer over night, the dryer draws out the moisture from the components and will keep the devices functioning properly for many years.

Replacing batteries is a necessary part of wearing most hearing aids. Hearing aid battery life depends on several factors. The first is the size of the battery. There are 4 different battery sizes listed in size order from smallest to largest: 10, 312, 13 and 675. As the battery gets larger the life span also increases.

The second factor is the amount of hearing loss and the amplification needed. Mild hearing losses require only a small amount of amplification from the hearing aids while a severe hearing loss would require a significant amount of amplification from the hearing aids. The more amplification that is needed means more draw on the battery for the hearing aids to be able to produce that amount of amplification. Also, it is very common that each ear on an individual has a slightly different hearing loss. No two ears are exactly the same. Therefore, even when one individual is wearing a set of hearing aids, each hearing aid may send different amplification to each ear causing different amounts of battery drain for each hearing aid. The hearing aids may not produce the low battery warnings at the same time because of that. It is recommended however, to change both batteries at the same time since the other hearing aid will likely need the battery replaced within a few hours anyway.

A third factor of hearing aid battery draw is the amount of features in the hearing aids and how they respond to different environments. Some hearing aid technology is very active and is making changes in the hearing aids for the individual many times per minute.  The types of environments that an individual is in throughout the day can change the battery draw amount. If an individual spends a day in a quiet environment, the battery draw would be much less than that of an individual that spent the day in a large crowded environment with a lot of noise. The hearing aids are very active in that crowded environment, therefore spending more battery power to process the information.

The fourth factor affecting hearing aid batteries is whether or not the hearing aids have Bluetooth and other wireless connections. The hearing aids that are constantly connected to Bluetooth devices, or are used for phone call/media streaming will require a lot more battery power. Overall, the connections and clarity gained by the increased technology and wireless connections are well worth the time spent changing a few extra batteries per year.

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