You enjoy swimming and are all about being in the water. The pool is like your second home (when you were a kid, everybody said you were part fish–that’s how often you wanted to go swimming). Today, the water sounds a little… louder… than normal. And that’s when you notice you may have made a mistake: you wore your hearing aids into the pool. And you aren’t entirely sure those little electronic devices are waterproof.
Normally, this would be somewhat of a concern. Hearing aids are typically built with some level of water resistance in mind. But being resistant to water is not 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 dry and clean. But for the majority of 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 designated water resistance number.
The IP number works by giving 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 second digit (and the one we’re really interested in here) represents how resistant your device is to water. The device will last longer under water the greater this number is. So if a device has a rating of IP87 it will have very good resistance to dry erosion and will be ok under water for around 30 minutes.
Some contemporary hearing aids can be really water-resistant. But there are no hearing aids presently available that are completely waterproof.
Is water resistance worthwhile?
The sophisticated electronics inside your hearing aid case aren’t going to mesh well with water. Before you go for a swim or into the shower you will definitely want to take out your hearing aid and depending on the IP rating, avoid using them in overly 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 situations where it can be useful:
- If you sweat substantially, whether at rest or when exercising (sweat, after all, is a kind of water)
- You have a proclivity for water sports (such as boating or fishing); the spray from the boat might call for high IP rated hearing aids
- You have a history of forgetting to take out your hearing aid before you take a shower or walk out into the rain
- If the environment where you live is rainy or overly humid
This list is just a small sample. Of course, what degree of water resistance will be sufficient for your daily life will only be able to be identified after a consultation.
Your hearing aids need to be taken care of
It’s worthwhile to note that water-resistant does not mean maintenance-free. Between sweat-filled runs, it will be in your best interest to make sure that you clean your hearing aids and keep them dry.
You might, in some circumstances, need to purchase a dehumidifier. In other circumstances, it may just mean keeping your hearing aids in a clean dry place at night (it depends on your climate). But certain types of moisture can leave residue (like sweat), so to get the best results, you will also want to take enough time to clean your hearing aids thoroughly.
What should you do if your hearing aids get wet?
If waterproof hearing aids don’t exist, should you panic when your devices get 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, 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 abstain from getting your hearing aids wet, you will get the best results. It’s best to keep your hearing aids as dry as you can.