As a swimmer, you enjoy being in the water. When you were a kid, everyone said you were part fish because you liked to swim so much the pool was your second home. Today, the water sounds a bit… louder… than usual. And that’s when you realize you might have made a mistake: you wore your hearing aids into the pool. And you don’t know if it’s waterproof or not.
In the majority of scenarios, you’re right to be a bit worried. Hearing aids are often constructed with some level of water resistance in mind. But being resistant to water isn’t the same as actually being waterproof.
Hearing aids and water resistance ratings
Generally speaking, your hearing aids are going to work best when they are kept clean and dry. But for most hearing aids, it won’t be a problem if you get a little water on them. It all depends on something called an IP rating–that’s the officially designated water resistance number.
The IP number works by giving every hearing aid a two digit number. The first number shows the device’s resistance against sand, dust, and other forms of dry erosion.
The number here that we’re really interested in though, is the second digit which signifies the hearing aid’s resistance to water. The higher the number, the longer the device will last under water. So if a device has a rating of IP87 it will have very good resistance to dry erosion and will be fine under water for about a half hour.
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?
Your hearing aids have sophisticated electronics inside them which can be damaged by moisture. Normally, you’ll want to take out your hearing aids before you go swimming or hop in the shower or depending on the IP rating, go 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 situations in which a high IP rating will absolutely be advantageous:
- If you live in a fairly humid, rainy, or wet climate
- If you sweat substantially, whether at rest or when exercising (sweat, after all, is a kind of water)
- You enjoy boating or other water activities that generate over-spray
- You have a history of forgetting to take your hearing aids out before you shower or go out into the rain
This list is just the tip of the iceberg. Of course, what degree of water resistance will be sufficient for your daily life will only be able to be determined after a consultation.
Your hearing aids need to be cared for
Your hearing aid isn’t maintenance-free just because it’s resistant to water. You will need to keep your hearing aids dry and clean.
In some circumstances, that could mean obtaining a dehumidifier. But in most situations, a clean dry storage place will work fine (depending on where you live). But certain kinds of moisture can leave residue (like sweat), so to get the best benefits, 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 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 check in with us to make certain that they aren’t damaged, especially if they have a low IP rating.
The IP rating on your hearing aid will give you an idea of what you can expect in terms of possible water damage. At least, try to remember to take your hearing aids out before you go swimming. The drier your hearing devices stay, the better.