As a swimmer, you love being 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 swim). Today, the water sounds a little… 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 aren’t entirely certain those little electronic devices are waterproof.
Normally, this would be somewhat of a concern. Hearing aids are often designed with some degree of water resistance in mind. 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 good working order. But some hearing aids are designed so a little splatter now and then won’t be a problem. The IP rating is the official water resistance number and establishes how water resistant a hearing aid is.
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 types of dry erosion is represented by the first number.
The second number (and the one we’re really interested in here) represents how resistant your device is to water. The higher the number, the longer the device will last under water. So a device that has a rating of IP87 will be really resistant to sand and function for about thirty minutes in water.
Although there are no hearing aids currently available that are totally waterproof, there are some that can have a high water resistance rating.
Is water resistance worthwhile?
The sophisticated electronics inside your hearing aid case aren’t going to do well with water. Before you go for a swim or into the shower you will probably want to take out your hearing aid and depending on the IP rating, avoid using them 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 situations where it can be useful:
- You enjoy boating or other water activities that produce over-spray
- There have been times when you’ve forgotten to take your hearing aid out before going into the rain or shower
- If the climate where you live is rainy or excessively humid
- If you perspire substantially, whether at rest or when exercising (sweat, after all, is a form of water)
This is surely not an exhaustive list. It’ll be up to you and your hearing specialist to consider your daily life and determine just what kind of water resistance is strong enough for your routine.
Your hearing aids need to be taken care of
Your hearing aid is not maintenance-free just because it’s resistant to water. You will need to keep your hearing aids clean and dry.
You might, in some circumstances, need to purchase a dehumidifier. In other cases, it may just mean keeping your hearing aids in a clean dry place at night (it depends on your climate). And it will be necessary to completely clean and remove any residue left behind by certain moistures including sweat.
If your hearing aids get wet, what should you do?
Just because there’s no such thing as a waterproof hearing aid doesn’t mean you should panic if your hearing aid gets wet. Well, no–mostly because panicking won’t improve anything anyway. But you need to give your hearing aids sufficient time to dry out thoroughly and if they have a low IP rating, we can help you identify if there is any damage.
How much damage your hearing aid has sustained can be approximated based on the IP rating. At least, try not to forget to remove your hearing aids before you go swimming. The drier your hearing devices remain, the better.