As a swimmer, you love going 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 swim). The water seems a bit…louder… than usual today. And then you recognize your oversight: you went in the pool with your hearing aid in. And you aren’t entirely certain those little electronic devices are waterproof.
Usually, this would be somewhat of a concern. Hearing aids are often designed with some amount 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 for most hearing aids, it won’t be a big deal if you get a little water on them. 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 device is assigned a two-digit number. The first digit signifies the device’s resistance to dirt, dust, and other kinds of dry erosion.
The second number (and the one we’re really considering here) represents how resistant your device is to water. The greater the number, the longer the device will keep working under water. So a device with a rating of IP87 will be very resistant to sand and function for about thirty minutes in water.
Some modern hearing aids can be very water-resistant. But there are no hearing aids presently available that are totally waterproof.
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 excessively humid weather. No amount of water resistance will help if you drop your hearing aids in the deep end of a swimming pool, but there are some circumstances where a high IP rating will absolutely be to your advantage:
- You have a record of forgetting to take out your hearing aid before you shower or walk out into the rain
- If you perspire significantly, whether at rest or when exercising (sweat, after all, is a kind of water)
- If you live in a fairly humid, rainy, or wet climate
- You have a passion for water sports (such as boating or fishing); the spray from the boat may call for high IP rated hearing aids
This list is only a small sample. It’ll be up to you and your hearing specialist to take a look at your daily life and determine just what type of water resistance is strong enough for your routine.
You have to care for your hearing aids
It’s important to mention that water-resistant doesn’t mean maintenance-free. Between sweat-filled runs, it will be smart to make sure that you clean your hearing aids and keep them dry.
In some circumstances, that could mean investing in a dehumidifier. In other cases, it may just mean storing your hearing aids in a clean dry place at night (it depends on your climate). And it will be necessary to thoroughly 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. Mostly because panicking never helps anyway so it’s best to stay calm. But you will want to completely allow your hearing aids to dry and consult with us to make certain that they aren’t damaged, particularly if they have a low IP rating.
How much damage your hearing aid has sustained can be approximated based on the IP rating. If you can avoid getting your hearing aids wet, you will get the best results. The drier your hearing devices stay, the better.