Posts Tagged ‘hearing’

Hearing Aid Battery Safety

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Hearing aid battery safety

If you use disposable hearing aid button batteries, follow smart safety rules

Hearing aids are powered either by rechargeable batteries or small, disposable “button” batteries. Although rechargeable hearing aids are quickly becoming the more popular battery option, many people still use hearing aids with disposable batteries.

These batteries keep hearing aids working at their optimum performance, but did you know they can cause serious injury or death if they’re not handled properly?

Button batteries are tiny and should be kept
away from children and pets.

Batteries contain mercury, silver, lithium and other heavy metals as their main component. When these chemicals are ingested and come in contact with body fluids, they create an electrical current which can burn through tissue and seriously damage internal organs in as little as two hours’ time. When you handle a leaking battery, it can cause serious burns immediately.

This is true no matter if the batteries are fully charged or no longer power your hearing aids.

My child swallowed a button battery. What do I do?

According to the National Capital Poison Control Center, more than 3,500 Americans of all ages swallow button batteries every year. If this happens to a person or pet in your home, seek medical attention immediately.

This is a medical emergency and you should not attempt first aid at home. If the child is older than one year, give them about two teaspoons of honey every 10 minutes until they are in the ER. Honey can help slow the development of an internal battery burn injury, but it will not stop it from occurring.

Do not delay medical care. If ingested, button batteries can cause serious internal burns, bleeding and injuries. Numerous children have either been severely injured or died from ingestion.

For babies (under one year), they need an x-ray immediately to locate the battery. If the battery is in the esophagus, it must be removed immediately. Serious injury including death is possible.

In older children, follow your doctors’ guidance. They will most likely need the battery removed using an endoscopy procedure.

If you’re not sure if your child has ingested a button battery, signs to look out for include wheezing, drooling, vomiting, chest discomfort, difficulty swallowing and gagging when eating or drinking.

Damage can also occur if a child puts the battery in their nose or ear.

Storing your disposable hearing aid batteries safely

Now that you know, you can see why it’s important to keep your hearing aid batteries safe from little hands or inquisitive pets. It’s important to find a safe place to store your batteries. Here are some dos and don’ts:

  • DO invest in a container with a snap-tight lid. Store it on a shelf (the higher the better – as long as you can reach it safely) in a closet which has a door you keep shut.
  • DO store your batteries at room temperature. Heat shortens battery life and, contrary to popular opinion, battery life is not extended by storing them in the refrigeration.
  • DON’T store batteries next to metal objects, such as coins and keys. These are common items found in pant pockets and purses.
  • DON’T store your batteries with your medications. Many pills are the same size and shape as hearing aid batteries. Many cases of accidental battery poisoning have occurred from people who mistakenly ingested a hearing aid battery while taking their daily medications.
  • DO be careful with all button batteries in your home, not just the ones in your hearing aids. Button batteries are also commonly used in remote controls, toys, thermometers, tealight candles, key fobs and even light-up shoes.

How to properly discard your batteries

When you change your hearing aid batteries, be sure to place them in a child- and pet-proof container immediately until you can take them to a recycling center. Do not leave them on a counter or throw them in the trash can.

Batteries are recyclable

Because of the valuable metals these batteries contain, they’re extremely recyclable. Those same contents make them extremely hazardous if you simply throw them in the trash. Over time, the batteries can leak these hazardous chemicals and contaminate the environment. Recycling centers extract the dangerous chemicals and discard the remaining contents, which are safe for landfills.

In this day and age, it’s likely there are more than a few battery recycling collection centers in your community. If you aren’t already aware of their location, check with your hearing center.

Acid burn

Sometimes, batteries can leak acid that can burn your skin. If you receive an acid burn when handling your hearing aid batteries:

  • Use a wet cloth to wipe any area on the hands, face or feet,
  • Remove any clothing or jewelry which may have come in contact with the battery acid so it doesn’t burn any other areas,
  • Run cool water over the affected area for 15 minutes,
  • Wrap the affected area with a clean piece of gauze or cotton towel and call your doctor if your skin continues to discolor.

Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing

Debbie ClasonDebbie Clason holds a master’s degree from Indiana University. Her impressive client list includes financial institutions, real estate developers, physicians, pharmacists and nonprofit organizations. Read more about Debbie.

Summertime Sounds That Are Potentially Unsafe For Your Ears

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Fireworks, leaf blowers, and concerts, oh my: Top unsafe summertime sounds

Grab your earplugs and stay safe this season

Anytime I hear someone in my neighborhood fire up a leaf blower or mower, I look out the window: Are they wearing hearing protection? Often they’re not, and I wince, knowing that I’m watching noise-induced hearing loss unfold right in front of me. Many people don’t realize just how dangerous sound can be, even in the loveliness of summertime. With that in mind, grab your earplugs and prep yourself for these common, potentially harmful seasonal sounds:

Outdoor concerts

If you have to shout to be heard at a concert, it’s WAY too loud

An outdoor music concert.
Protect your hearing by wearing earplugs
at outdoor concerts.

You’d think outdoor concerts wouldn’t be as harmful as indoor concerts, but that’s incorrect: Unlike indoor concerts where the sound is absorbed, an outdoor venue causes the sound to disperse causing the band’s sound techs to turn the music up even louder. Volume is measured in decibels.

Concert sound levels are often in excess of 100 dB, well above the recommended 85 dB limit which is considered potentially harmful to hearing. In addition to choosing lawn seats and sitting away from speakers, pick up a pair of disposable earplugs before the concert.

Not sure what 100db sounds like? You can use a sound meter app on your phone. Or, follow this quick rule of thumb: If you and your friends can’t hear each other speak without shouting, the music is most certainly damaging your hearing.

MoreHow loud is too loud?

Motorcycles, speedboats and convertibles

Wind is noisy. Very noisy.

Contrary to what you might think, it’s not the engine noise but the wind noise that can wreak havoc on your hearing. Riding a motorcycle at 65 miles per hour, especially if you don’t wear a helmet, can produce wind noise levels in excess of 103 dB. To put it into perspective, that is louder than a chainsaw. And if the sound level exceeds 115 dB, just 15 minutes of exposure can result in permanent hearing damage. When boating, a simple pair of disposable earplugs will suffice. Depending on their state laws, motorcycle riders can best protect their hearing with a custom set of hear-through earplugs that will still enable them to hear road noise, sirens or honking cars.

And, nothing beats putting the top down and taking the convertible out for a spin on the first sunny day of the season. But the wind, the roaring of the engine and noise of other vehicles can put a damper on your drive when you find yourself experiencing tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears) or other symptoms of hearing damage. While it is not safe to wear earplugs while driving, you may be permitted to wear hear-through ear protection if your state’s laws allow. If not, try putting the windows up to reduce some of the noise and don’t travel long distances with your top down.

Target shooting

A woman target shoots.
Gunfire is incredibly dangerous to your
hearing.

Gunfire is a sure-fire way to damage hearing

As many as 40 million Americans participate in target shooting each year, putting themselves at risk of developing “shooter’s ear.” Almost all firearms create noise that is above 140 dB, enough to cause immediate hearing damage, and even the smaller caliber firearms are above 120 dB.

Always wear earplugs when shooting, and if possible, double up and wear earmuffs as well. When it comes to gunfire, the more hearing protection, the better.

Fireworks

Home fireworks are especially dangerous

From Memorial Day to Labor Day in the U.S., elaborate fireworks displays reign supreme. Most fireworks have sound upwards of 125 dB, which is loud enough to damage hearing. In addition to wearing earplugs yourself, protect your child’s hearing too. The noise levels of fireworks displays make them unsafe for babies and toddlers, but if you must bring them to a display, cover their ears with inexpensive lightweight foam-filled ear cups or Baby Banz. Earplugs are best for older children. If you or a loved one insists on buying home fireworks, please be extra careful, as they are not just bad for your hearing, they are responsible for countless ER visits every year.

Professional baseball games

Crowd noise is just the start

Nothing says summertime like the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd. In the U.S., baseball is a time-honored tradition that, for many of us, epitomizes summer. In an effort to ramp up the excitement, stadiums these days are louder than ever. In addition to crowd noise, rows of speakers blasting rock music and fireworks celebrating home runs can make watching the game a deafening experience. A University of Michigan study found decibel levels of major league baseball games averaged 94 dB, but could reach as much as 114 dB. At 94 dB, anything more than 30 minutes of exposure puts you at risk of damaging your hearing. Wearing earplugs, and making sure your children’s ears are protected as well, can reduce the risk of hearing damage.

Lawn mowers and leaf blowers

One solution: Let your yard go wild!

A mower yard shouldn’t lead to hearing loss later in life. Any noise measuring in excess of 85 dB has the potential to be harmful to hearing. Unfortunately, Most equipment used for yard work measures between 80 dB and 105 dB. Proper precautions can help you protect your hearing while maintaining your yard this summer. Electric equipment is quieter than gas-powered, and proper maintenance of equipment can reduce the noise level. My solution: I planted a native, low-maintenance pollinator garden and now my lawnmower just sits in the shed. Of course, trees are different and it can be hard to avoid the need for chainsaws and the like. So, be sure to wear earplugs or earmuffs when operating lawn equipment such as chainsaws, hedge trimmers, leaf blowers or lawn mowers.

Car races

Vroom-vroom can equal doom-doom for the ears

Formula One, NASCAR, Indy car and stock car races have one major commonality: They are dangerously loud. Most races average between 90 and 115 dB depending on the types of cars, acoustics of the track space and viewing location. Sound levels can reach as high as 130 dB, the human hearing threshold for pain. This noise level puts spectators at real risk for hearing damage and tinnitus. If you are heading to the track, bring your earplugs. They won’t detract from your experience but they will save your hearing down the road. Also: Leave the kids at home for this activity, folks.

Air shows

The sound pressure from jet engines can hurt children’s ears (and yours!)

Though the aerial stunts can be breathtaking, the noise of the jet engines quickly becomes ear-splitting when pilots venture close to the ground. Young children especially are vulnerable to hearing damage since shorter ear canals cause the sound pressure entering the ear to be greater. You would probably bring sunscreen, a hat and bottled water to an air show, right? So remember to bring ear protection for the entire family as well.

Bottom line

Get outside and take advantage of all that summer has to offer, but protect your hearing at the same time. If you are experiencing fullness in the ears, ringing or buzzing, be sure to see a hearing care professional right away.

Joy Victory, managing editor, Healthy Hearing

Joy VictoryJoy Victory has extensive experience editing consumer health information. Her training in particular has focused on how to best communicate evidence-based medical guidelines and clinical trial results to the public. She strives to make health content accurate, accessible and engaging to the public. Read more about Joy.