You enjoy swimming and are all about going into the water. The pool is like your second home (when you were younger, everyone said you were part fish–that’s how often you wanted to swim). The water seems a little…louder… than usual today. And then you realize your oversight: you went in the pool with your hearing aid in. And you don’t know if it’s waterproof or not.
In the majority of cases, you’re right to be a little worried. Normally, contemporary hearing aids are resistant to water to some degree. But being resistant to water is not the same as actually being 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 most hearing aids, it won’t be a big deal if you get a little water on them. It all depends on something called an IP rating–that’s the officially allocated water resistance number.
Here’s how the IP rating works: every hearing aid is given a two-digit number. The device’s resistance to dust, sand, and other forms of dry erosion is represented by the first digit.
The number here that we’re really considering though, is the second number which signifies the hearing aid’s resistance to water. The device will last longer under water the higher this number is. So if a device has a rating of IP87 it will have extremely good resistance to dry erosion and will be fine under water for about 30 minutes.
Some contemporary hearing aids can be quite water-resistant. But there are no hearing aids currently available that are completely waterproof.
Is water resistance worthwhile?
The advanced electronics inside of your hearing aid case won’t do well with water. Typically, you’ll want to take out 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. If you drop your hearing aid in the deep end of the pool, a high IP rating won’t do much good, but there are other circumstances where it can be useful:
- If you live in a really humid, rainy, or wet climate
- You have a track record of forgetting to take your hearing aids out before you shower or go out into the rain
- If you perspire significantly, whether at rest or when exercising (sweat, after all, is a form of water)
- You have a passion for water sports (such as boating or fishing); the spray from the boat could warrant high IP rated hearing aids
This list is only a small sample. It’ll be up to you and your hearing specialist to evaluate your daily life and figure out just what sort 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 resistant to water. Between sweat-filled runs, it will be smart to ensure that you clean your hearing aids and keep them dry.
You may, in some situations, need to purchase a dehumidifier. But in most cases, a nice dry storage place will work fine (depending on where you live). But some kinds of moisture can leave residue (sweat among them), so to get the best results, you will also want to take the proper 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 remain calm. But you will want to carefully allow your hearing aids to dry and check in with us to make sure 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. At least, try to remember to remove your hearing aids before you go swimming. The drier your hearing devices stay, the better.