As a swimmer, you enjoy being in the water. When you were a kid, everyone said you were part fish because you loved to swim so much the pool was your second home. Today, the water seems a bit… louder… than normal. And then you recognize your oversight: you went in the pool with your hearing aid in. And you don’t know if it’s waterproof or not.
Usually, this would be somewhat of a concern. Hearing aids are typically built 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
In general speaking, your hearing aids are going to function best when they are kept clean and dry. But some hearing aids are made so a little splatter here and there won’t be a big deal. It all depends on something known as an IP rating–that’s the officially allocated water resistance number.
The IP number works by giving every device a two digit number. The device’s resistance to dust, sand, and other types 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 greater this number is. So a device that has a rating of IP87 will be quite resistant to sand and work for about thirty minutes in water.
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 sophisticated electronics inside your hearing aid case aren’t going to mesh well with water. Before you go swimming or into the shower you will definitely want to take out your hearing aid and depending on the IP rating, try not to use 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 scenarios where it can be useful:
- If you perspire substantially, whether at rest or when exercising (sweat, after all, is a type of water)
- You have a track record of forgetting to take your hearing aids out before you take a shower or go out into the rain
- If the environment where you live is rainy or excessively humid
- You love boating or other water activities that produce over-spray
This list is just a small sample. It’ll be up to you and your hearing specialist to consider your day-to-day life and decide just what sort of water resistance is strong enough for your life.
You have to care for your hearing aids
It’s important to note that water-resistant does not mean maintenance-free. You will want to keep your hearing aids dry and clean.
You might, in some circumstances, need to get a dehumidifier. But in most situations, a nice dry storage place will work fine (depending on where you live). But certain kinds of moisture can leave residue (sweat among them), 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 should you do?
Just because waterproof hearing aids don’t exist doesn’t mean you need to panic if your hearing aid gets wet. Well, no–mostly because getting panicked won’t improve anything anyway. But you need to give your hearing aids sufficient time to dry out entirely and if they have a low IP rating, we can help you determine if there is any damage.
How much damage your hearing aid has sustained can be approximated based on the IP rating. At the very least, try to remember to remove your hearing aids before you go swimming. It’s best to keep your hearing aids as dry as you can.