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ROCHESTER, Minn. – An 8th grade student may have made a discovery that could save people who wear hearing aids significant money.

Ethan Manuell is an audiology patient at Olmsted County Medical Center and wears a hearing aid in his left ear. He began a study, with the help of his audiologist, Mary Meier Au. D, looking into the effect wait time has on hearing aid batteries, which is the time between activating the battery and placing the battery in the hearing aid.

To activate a hearing aid battery, users need to remove a sticker on the battery which allows oxygen to mix with zinc-oxide inside the battery. Manuell did tests to see if waiting a little longer before putting the battery into the device would make a difference. What he found was if users wait 5 minutes after pulling off the sticker, the battery will last 2-3 days longer, which is significant considering batteries usually last anywhere from 2-7 days depending on the model.

“The more energized zinc you have, the longer it lasts. So this discovery I made, if you wait five minutes, it improves the battery life by 80%,” explains Manuell.

Ethan has won several awards and received recognition for his “5 minute rule” discovery, including earning a US Naval Science Award.

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Better Hearing Consumer

If you had only 5 minutes to make a difference in the life of a stranger, how would you use it?

If, in an unexpected moment, a person whose daily world is not connected to yours, has opened themselves up and is ready to embrace your words, because, somehow, they know what you’re offering is something they need—what would you say?

Five minutes, a fleeting blip in a person’s lifespan, that’s all the time you’ve got.

If I were to meet a stranger—in a highway travel rest stop, let’s say, with picnic tables by a river—who has signaled confusion and frustration with their hearing loss (or worse, the intent to donothing about it), and whose bus is leaving in 5 minutes, I hope I would say, “Do you have a moment to chat, here by the river?”

How would I compress a lifetime of learning to live with hearing loss into a few seconds? But I only have one shot with this stranger, and the bus’s running motor reminds me how little time we have, so I would try:

I have hearing loss too and here’s what has worked for me.  Maybe it will work for you, too.

Admit It.  Be honest about your hearing loss.  Don’t try to hide it.  Your secret grieving for the way things used to be won’t bring back the sounds.  If you don’t admit it to yourself and others, things may only get worse.   Being open about your  . . .

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