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What is the 5 minute rule for hearing aid batteries? (And is it real?)

Close up young man putting hearing aid in ear
Young man wearing a hearing aid while exercising in the park. PixelCatchers via Getty Images

Your hearing aid is a lifeline to the rest of the world. Noise cancellation and sound amplification are two key ways your trusty hearing aid can help with mild to severe hearing loss. What isn't convenient is a short hearing-aid battery life; replacing those little button batteries can be a pain, especially if you're dealing with batteries that run out of juice in weeks or even days. One thing you should always consider is replacing the hearing aid itself; some models offer longer battery life than others. We've assembled the best options for you in the handy guide below.

You may have stumbled across the five-minute rule when trying to find ways to get the absolute most out of your hearing-aid battery and other hearing-aid accessories. Is it an effective trick for extending battery life? And also, how does it work? Let's get into it.

What is the five-minute rule for hearing aid batteries?

The five minute rule for hearing aids can be an easy hack for extending your hearing aid battery life by a few extra days. But how does this work, exactly?

Most hearing aids, especially affordable over-the-counter or OTC hearing aids from trusted brands like MDHearing, are powered by a replaceable button cell battery that you can buy from most retail stores and hearing aid providers.

Today, these batteries are powered by a zinc air system. All you need to know about this bit of hearing aid tech is that a chemical reaction occurs when air flows into the battery casing (through tiny perforations or holes on the surface) to produce energy. This is why your replaceable hearing aid batteries come factory sealed with a protective film that needs to be peeled off before using them. 

The five-minute rule for hearing-aid batteries is a simple way to get a few extra days of life out of your batteries. The next time you need to replace your hearing-aid battery, here's what to do:

  • Don't remove the protective film on the new hearing-aid battery until you're ready to replace your old one. 
  • After removing the protective film, don't immediately insert the new battery. Instead, wait five to seven minutes.
  • Waiting five minutes before inserting the new battery lets enough air into the battery to fully activate the battery's power centers.

In case you're wondering just how legitimate this hearing aid trick is, one study found that this tactic may extend the battery life by up to two or three days. We double-checked the science behind zinc air systems, too -- since air is the positive active material that activates these batteries, this trick for extending battery life on your hearing aid checks out.

What is the best type of hearing aid?

Hearing aids come in all shapes and sizes, with different battery types and locations to get used to. The main hearing aid types you're likely to come across include:

  • Behind-the-ear (BTE): BTE hearing aids loop over the top of the ear, with most of the electronics in a plastic case behind it. With the largest design, these provide optimal sound amplification over other models.
  • In-the-ear (ITE): ITE hearing aids are custom-made to sit entirely in the outer ear. These devices have a longer battery life and usually come with more features, such as volume control, than smaller models.
  • Receiver-in-the-canal (RIC): RIC hearing aids (as well as the smaller receiver-in-the-ear, or RITE, devices) are similar to a BTE in design, but with a connecting wire in place of the BTE's earmold. This gives the ear canal more room and results in a more comfortable fit.
  • Completely-in-the-canal (CIC): CIC hearing aids have the smallest design, with a custom-built shell that fits in the ear canal. These are the least noticeable, but don't offer many features or the most powerful sound amplification.

Rechargeable vs. replaceable hearing-aid batteries

Whether or not the five minute rule for hearing aid batteries applies to your device depends on the type of battery it uses. Many popular hearing aid brands make use of rechargeable batteries, which are typically made of lithium-ion and last up to 24 hours on a single charge. These can be more expensive than replaceable batteries, but the upside to rechargeable batteries is that they generally need to be replaced once a year -- just make sure you're charging them each night.

Replaceable batteries will need to be replaced much more frequently than a rechargeable battery, but the upside is that they're a cheaper alternative. It's hearing aids that use these button cell batteries that can benefit from the trusty five minute battery rule, extending your battery life by up to 72 hours.

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