Dr. Joe "Tripp" Griffith Joe Griffith


Hearing Aid Batteries

Hearing aids must operate from a power source.  This power source is the hearing aid battery.  The majority of hearing aids run on disposable batteries.  There are a few hearing aids that operate on a re-chargeable battery system.  For the purpose of today’s post I want to focus on the disposable hearing aid battery.

Hearing aid batteries come in 4 different sizes (size 10, 13, 312, and 675).  Each hearing aid is designed to work with a specific size battery.  Your audiologist will discuss with you what size battery works with your specific hearing aid.  The hearing aid battery sizes are also color coded, size 10 (yellow), size 13 (orange), size 312 (brown), size 675 (blue) this can make it easy to pick out the right size when you call to order or pick up in a store.

One of the biggest concerns with hearing aid batteries is how long they last.  Each size of battery has a different length of time it can last.  Size 10 batteries are the smallest and may only last a few days while a size 13 battery may last closer to 10 days in your hearing aids.

Regardless of battery manufacturer there are a few things to look for and do to increase battery life:

  1. Confirm on the back of the package that the batteries are 1.45 volts and not 1.4 volts.
  2. Store hearing aid batteries in a dry place.
    1. Do not store in the bathroom
  3. When it is time to replace a battery in a hearing aid, remove the battery from the package and peel the sticker from the battery.
    1. Before placing the battery into the hearing aid let the battery rest on the table for 3-5 minutes
    2. Hearing aid batteries are charged by exposure to the air so letting the battery air out for 3-5 minutes allows them to come to a full charge before putting them to use in the hearing aid

Following these above steps can help maximize the length of time a hearing aid battery can last for you.

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Can Hearing Aids Be Passed On

I had a patient who recently purchased a new set of hearing aids.  He is 87 and in good health but understands he is nearing the twilight of years.  He wants to continue to strive for the best possible quality of life and stay connected to his family and friends but also wants to know that if he makes a significant purchase on hearing aids they could be passed on in a final will.

This is a very common question and the answer is, YES, but it is much easier to pass on if the hearing aids are receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) or behind-the-ear (BTE).  The reason for this has to do with the model of hearing aids.  When the RIC or BTE models are used, the body of the hearing aid is not custom fit to the patient.  What is customized is how the hearing aid adjusts for the patient’s hearing test results.  This means that to pass a RIC or BTE hearing aid on all that may be required is a reprogramming of the internal computer software.

Each clinic may be slightly different but most often there will be a fitting or reprogramming fee involved to adjust the hearing aids for a new patient’s hearing.  The fee is often similar in price to a co-pay for a visit, but could vary considerably depending on the policy for certain clinics.

If you have questions about your specific hearing aids or if you would like to know if your hearing instruments could be gifted or passed on to family or friends call Dr. Griffith with Accessible Hearing Aids at 504-738-4557.

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Hearing Test

I had a patient recently who reported having had a couple of hearing tests completed in the past year and a half and wondered why he would require another hearing evaluation before being fit with hearing amplification.  The answer is for pure tone testing, a test within the past 6-12 months can be sufficient, however, pure tone testing is only a small portion of a hearing evaluation.

Pure tone testing (beep testing) is a test where you are presented with a series of beeps at different test frequencies to determine the softest level at which you can hear a sound.  This is an integral portion of the test battery but alone provides little information.

When you add speech testing to the pure tone test results you can gain more knowledge on the function of the auditory system.  Speech testing is vital to provide a cross check for verifying if the results given during pure tone testing are accurate and can provide insight into the function of the inner ear, hearing nerve, brainstem, and speech centers in the brain.  Speech testing is not an MRI or CT scan, so it does not give an image of any structures, but poor speech test scores can sometimes be a flag that something may be off in one or more of these areas.

Speech testing can also be performed in the presence of background noise.  This is often referred to as speech in noise testing (clever name I know).  Speech in noise testing can be a fantastic tool for how a patient processes speech in a more realistic or real world scenario.  Let’s face it, pure tone beep testing is great to identify how soft you can hear but it provides little information into how you process and interact with the world around you.

The patient mentioned in the first paragraph scored a mild to moderate hearing loss on pure tone testing and scored in the 80% range on speech identification but when presented with speech in noise he scored more like someone with a severe or profound hearing loss.  His chief complaint is poor understanding in noise.  But without adding speech in noise testing it would not look like as big of an issue.

Using a full test battery is the best way to diagnose and understand what is happening in the auditory system.  So before you trial a pair of hearing aids make sure to ask if you have had at least pure tone testing, speech testing, and speech in noise testing because if you have not there may be a piece of your hearing puzzle missing and you may not be as successful.

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Hearing loss: Visible or invisible?

It is easy to think that hearing loss is invisible.  It does not have a unique shape, you cannot touch or pick up hearing loss, it has no tangible mass, smell (thank goodness), or color.  However, it is sensed and recognized often by loved ones and family members before the actual patient.

I saw a coffee mug while in graduate school that read, “Your hearing loss is much more visible than your hearing aids will be.”  It is a great joke but it rings so true especially today with the advent of microprocessor technology and the miniaturization of microphones and amplifiers.

Many of my first time patients report they made the appointment for hearing testing only to placate the wishes of their spouse or family member.  To the patient everyone else mumbles or speaks too softly, to their family the patient is deaf as a post, rude, irritating, or hearing selectively.

It is interesting how the question of visibility is based purely on perspective.  To the patient suffering from a gradual onset hearing loss the problem may be invisible while at the same time their family and friends are acutely aware of a hearing issue.

If you are 55 or older, an annual hearing evaluation is highly recommended to monitor your hearing health. The best solution is to call Accessible Hearing Aids for at least a hearing screening or better yet a comprehensive hearing evaluation.  Hearing testing will verify if there is a visible hearing loss you are unaware of or if you should get a new set of family and friends…(only kidding)  After a comprehensive hearing evaluation, you will be well aware of any notable hearing loss and what is the best solution moving forward.

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Hearing Aid Programming

I often meet new patients at screenings for church groups or organizations and a few of these new patients already wear hearing aids.  I always like to ask “How do you think your hearing aids are working currently?” and “When was the last time you saw your hearing health care professional about your hearing aids?”

There is one constant that I have noticed over the years.  If the patient reports the hearing aids are not working to their satisfaction they also report they have not returned to have the hearing aids serviced or adjusted.

Accessible Hearing Aids provides clean and checks on all hearing aids as an initial consultation about your hearing health.  This is important because hearing aids are designed to last for years and over the lifespan of hearing aids your hearing will likely change as will your needs.

I recommend for any patient that purchases hearing aids from Accessible Hearing Aids that there will be 2-3 visits in the first month (monitor adjustment to the hearing aids), then at least one visit every 3-4 months (clean and maintain hearing aids), and one hearing test per year (monitor hearing acuity and update hearing aids accordingly).

Following the above recommendations reduces the risk of small problems with the hearing aids becoming major issues.  My goal is to keep hearing aids out of a sock drawer and on your ears where they can help you maintain the lifestyle you wish to lead

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Does hearing loss really matter?

I think like so many things in life, we take for granted what is naturally in place, only realizing how important something is once it isn’t working.  I was asked the question last week by a patient, “Does hearing loss really matter?”

It seems like such a simplistic question.  So trivial that you may wonder if it even requires a response; I mean can you really imagine not being able to hear or connect with your family through normal conversation when that is all you have known your entire life!!!

My response is “Why doesn’t it seem to matter to you?”

I did not get an immediate response to my question.  However, I was allowed the opportunity to demonstrate hearing aid amplification.

Because Accessible Hearing Aids is a mobile audiology company I was able to re-create a scenario that had been causing trouble between this patient and his wife.

The patient’s wife was frustrated because her husband would not respond correctly or not respond at all unless she was face to face with him.  My patient was unaware that there was a big problem because he thought his wife always mumbled or talked when she walked away.  He did not realize it could have been a mild to moderate hearing loss causing the problem.

With the wife in a different room I customized the hearing aids to my patient’s specific hearing needs and for the first time in years he was able to clearly hear his wife ask him…”Please clean out the gutters.”

My patient could not believe the difference hearing aids made in what he could hear again.  He was so unaware of what hearing loss had slowly taken away from him.  He may not be delighted that he no longer has the excuse, “I didn’t hear you” to get out of chores, but he is also no longer living isolated from his family thinking they all mumble.

After hearing the difference hearing aids can make my patient said “I cannot believe what I was not hearing and that I was missing so much in the world around me.  Hearing loss really matters even when you do not realize you have one.”

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