You enjoy swimming and are all about going into the water. The pool is like your second home (when you were a kid, everyone said you were part fish–that’s how regularly you wanted to go swimming). Today, the water sounds a bit… louder… than usual. And then you realize your oversight: you went in the pool with your hearing aid in. And you aren’t really certain those little electronic devices are waterproof.
Generally, this would be somewhat of a concern. Hearing aids are often constructed with some level of water resistance in mind. But a device that resists water is a great deal different than a device that’s waterproof.
Hearing aids and water resistance ratings
Keeping your hearing aids clean and dry is the best way to keep them in proper working order. But for the majority of hearing aids, it won’t be a problem if you get a little water on them. The IP rating is the official water resistance figure and establishes 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 types of dry erosion is delineated by the first number.
The second digit (and the one we’re really considering here) represents how resistant your device is 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 extremely good resistance to dry erosion and will be okay under water for around a half hour.
Although there are no hearing aids currently available that are entirely 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. Normally, you’ll want to remove your hearing aids before you go for a swim or jump in the shower or depending on the IP rating, sit outside in excessively humid weather. No level of water resistance will help if you drop your hearing aids in the deep end of a swimming pool, but there are some scenarios where a high IP rating will absolutely be advantageous:
- You have a passion for water sports (such as boating or fishing); the spray from the boat may warrant high IP rated hearing aids
- There have been times when you’ve forgotten to remove your hearing aids before going into the rain or shower
- If you live in a really humid, rainy, or wet climate
- If you sweat substantially, whether at rest or when exercising (sweat, after all, is a form of water)
This is certainly not a complete list. It’ll be up to you and your hearing specialist to consider your day-to-day life and identify just what kind of water resistance is strong enough for your life.
Your hearing aids need to be taken care of
Your hearing aid isn’t maintenance-free just because it’s water resistant. Between sweat-filled runs, it will be smart to ensure that you clean your hearing aids and keep them dry.
In some cases, that might mean purchasing a dehumidifier. But in most situations, a nice dry storage place will work fine (depending on where you live). And it will be necessary to thoroughly clean and remove any residue left behind by some moistures including sweat.
What can you do if your hearing aids get wet?
Just because there’s no such thing as a waterproof hearing aid doesn’t mean you need to panic if your hearing aid gets wet. Mostly because panicking never improves the situation anyway so it’s best to stay calm. But you will want to carefully allow your hearing aids to dry and consult with us to make certain that they aren’t damaged, particularly 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 remain, the better.