As a swimmer, you love going in the water. The pool is like your second home (when you were younger, everybody said you were part fish–that’s how often you wanted to go swimming). The water seems a bit…louder… than normal today. And then you recognize your oversight: you went in the pool with your hearing aid in. And you aren’t entirely sure those tiny electronic devices are waterproof.
In the majority of cases, you’re right to be a bit worried. Usually, contemporary hearing aids are resistant to water to some degree. But being resistant to water isn’t the same as actually being waterproof.
Water resistance ratings and hearing aids
Keeping your hearing aids clean and dry is the best way to keep them in proper working order. But some hearing aids are made so a little splash here and there won’t be a big deal. The IP rating is the established water resistance figure and determines how water resistant a hearing aid is.
The IP number works by assigning every hearing aid a two digit number. The device’s resistance to dust, sand, and other kinds of dry erosion is delineated by the first digit.
The number here that we’re really interested in though, is the second digit which represents the hearing aid’s resistance to water. The higher the number, the longer the device will keep working under water. So if a device has a rating of IP87 it will have really strong resistance to dry erosion and will be ok under water for around a half hour.
Although there are no hearing aids presently available that are completely waterproof, there are some that can have a high water resistance rating.
Is water resistance worthwhile?
Your hearing aids have sophisticated electronics inside them which can be damaged by moisture. Typically, you’ll want to take out your hearing aids before you go swimming or hop in the shower or depending on the IP rating, sit outside in excessively humid weather. No amount of water resistance will help if you drop your hearing aids in the deep end of a swimming pool, but there are some situations in which a high IP rating will definitely be to your advantage:
- If you perspire significantly, whether at rest or when exercising (sweat, after all, is a type of water)
- If you live in a really humid, rainy, or wet climate
- You have a proclivity for water sports (such as fishing or boating); the spray from the boat may warrant high IP rated hearing aids
- You have a history of forgetting to take your hearing aids out before you shower or walk out into the rain
This list is only the tip of the iceberg. It’ll be up to you and your hearing specialist to evaluate your day-to-day life and determine just what sort of water resistance is strong enough for your life.
You have to care for your hearing aids
It’s worthwhile to note that water-resistant doesn’t mean maintenance-free. You will need to keep your hearing aids dry and clean.
You might, in some scenarios, need to purchase a dehumidifier. In other cases, it may just mean storing your hearing aids in a nice dry place every night (it depends on your climate). But certain kinds of moisture can leave residue (sweat among them), so to get the best results, you will also want to take enough time to clean your hearing aids thoroughly.
If your hearing aids get wet, what can you do?
Just because waterproof hearing aids don’t exist doesn’t mean you should panic if your hearing aid gets wet. Mostly because panicking never helps anyway so it’s best to stay calm. But you will want to carefully allow your hearing aids to dry and check in with us to make certain that they aren’t damaged, especially if they have a low IP rating.
How much damage your hearing aid has sustained can be estimated based on the IP rating. If you can avoid getting your hearing aids wet, you will get the best results. The drier your hearing devices stay, the better.