Storage, disposal, ingestion and more


Contributed by Debbie Clason, Editor, Healthy Hearing
Last update 2022-08-09T00:00:00-05:00

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

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

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

Batteries contain mercury, silver, lithium and other heavy metals as the main component. When these chemicals are ingested and come into contact with bodily fluids, they create an electrical current that can burn tissue and severely damage internal organs in as little as two hours. Handling a leaking battery can cause serious burns immediately.

This is true whether the batteries are fully charged or no longer powering 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 each year. If this happens to a person or pet in your home, consult a doctor immediately.

This is a medical emergency and you should not attempt first aid at home. If the child is over a year old, give him about two teaspoons of honey every 10 minutes until he is in the emergency room. Honey can help slow the development of an internal battery burn, but it won’t prevent it from happening.

Do not delay medical attention. If swallowed, button batteries can cause severe internal burns, bleeding and injury. Many children have been seriously injured or died from ingestion.

For babies (less than a year old), they need an immediate x-ray to locate the pile. If the battery is in the esophagus, it must be removed immediately. Serious injury, including death, is possible.

In older children, follow your doctor’s advice. They will most likely need to remove the battery using an endoscopic procedure.

If you are unsure whether your child has ingested a button cell battery, signs to watch for include wheezing, drooling, vomiting, chest discomfort, difficulty swallowing, and retching when eating or drinking.

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

Store your disposable hearing aid batteries safely

Now that you know, you understand why it is important to protect the batteries of your hearing aids from small hands or curious animals. It is important to find a safe place to store your batteries. Here are some do’s and don’ts:

  • Invest in a container with an airtight lid. Store it on a shelf (the higher the better – as long as you can reach it safely) in a closet with the door closed.
  • STORE your batteries at room temperature. Heat shortens the life of batteries and, contrary to popular opinion, battery life is not extended by storing them in the refrigerator.
  • DO NOT store batteries next to metal objects, such as coins and keys. These are common items found in trouser pockets and purses.
  • DO NOT store your batteries with your medication. Many pills are the same size and shape as hearing aid batteries. Many cases of accidental battery poisoning have occurred in people who have mistakenly ingested a hearing aid battery while taking their daily medications.
  • Be careful with all button cell batteries in your home, not just those in your hearing aids. Button cells are also commonly used in remote controls, toys, thermometers, tealights, keychains, and even shoe lights.

How to properly dispose of your batteries

When changing the batteries in your hearing aids, be sure to immediately place them in a child and pet proof container until you can take them to a recycling center. Don’t leave them on a counter or throw them in the trash.

Batteries are recyclable

Due to the precious metals these batteries contain, they are extremely recyclable. These same contents make them extremely dangerous if you simply throw them in the trash. Over time, batteries can leak these dangerous chemicals and contaminate the environment. Recycling centers extract the hazardous chemicals and dispose of the remaining contents, which are safe for landfills.

There are probably more than a few battery recycling collection centers in your community these days. If you don’t already know their location, check with your hearing center.

acid burn

Sometimes batteries can leak acid which can burn your skin. If you burn yourself with acid while handling the batteries in your hearing aids:

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

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