As a swimmer, you love 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 regularly you wanted to go swimming). Today, the water seems a bit… louder… than usual. And then you recognize your oversight: you went into the pool with your hearing aid in. And you don’t know if it’s waterproof or not.
In most scenarios, you’re right to be a little worried. Hearing aids are frequently designed with some degree of water resistance in mind. But a device that resists water is much different than a device that’s waterproof.
Water resistance ratings and hearing aids
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 big deal if you get a little water on them. The IP rating is the established water resistance number and determines how water resistant a hearing aid is.
The IP number works by assigning every hearing aid a two digit number. The device’s resistance to dust, sand, and other forms of dry erosion is delineated by the first number.
The number here that we’re really interested in though, is the second digit which represents 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 extremely good resistance to dry erosion and will be fine under water for about 30 minutes.
Although there are no hearing aids presently available that are completely waterproof, there are some that can have a high water resistance rating.
Is water resistance worthwhile?
Your hearing aids have sophisticated electronics inside them which can be damaged by moisture. 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, try not to use them in overly humid weather. If you drop your hearing aid in the deep end of the pool, a high IP rating won’t help much, but there are other circumstances where it can be useful:
- If you live in a fairly humid, rainy, or wet environment
- You love boating or other water activities that generate over-spray
- You have a history of forgetting to take your hearing aids out before you take a shower or go out into the rain
- If you have a heavy sweating problem
This list is only a small sample. It’ll be up to you and your hearing specialist to evaluate your day-to-day life and identify just what type of water resistance is strong enough for your life.
You have to take care of your hearing aids
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 may, in some circumstances, need to get a dehumidifier. But in most cases, a nice dry storage place will work fine (depending on where you live). And it will be necessary to completely clean and remove any residue left behind by certain moistures including sweat.
What should you do if your hearing aids get wet?
Just because waterproof hearing aids don’t exist doesn’t mean you should panic if your hearing aid gets wet. Well, no–mostly because getting panicked won’t help anything anyway. But you need to give your hearing aids sufficient time to dry out completely and if they have a low IP rating, we can help you find out if there is any damage.
How much damage your hearing aid has sustained can be approximated based on the IP rating. At least, try to remember to take your hearing aids out before you go swimming. The drier your hearing devices stay, the better.