As a swimmer, you love going in the water. When you were a kid, everyone said you were part fish because you liked to swim so much the pool was your second home. The water seems a bit…louder… than usual today. 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.
Generally, this would be somewhat of a worry. Normally, contemporary hearing aids are resistant to water to some degree. But being resistant to water isn’t the same as actually being waterproof.
Hearing aids and water resistance ratings
Keeping your hearing aids dry and clean is the best way to keep them in proper working order. But for the majority of hearing aids, it won’t be a problem if you get a little water on them. It all depends on something known as 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 first digit represents the device’s resistance to dirt, dust, and other forms of dry erosion.
The second digit (and the one we’re really considering here) signifies how resistant your hearing aid 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 really strong resistance to dry erosion and will be ok under water for around 30 minutes.
Some modern hearing aids can be very water-resistant. But there aren’t any hearing aids presently available that are entirely waterproof.
Is water resistance worthwhile?
The intricate electronics inside your hearing aid case won’t do well with water. Typically, you’ll want to remove your hearing aids before you go swimming or hop into the shower or depending on the IP rating, go outside 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 the climate where you live is rainy or excessively humid
- You love boating or other water activities that generate over-spray
- You have a track record of forgetting to take your hearing aids out before you shower or walk out into the rain
- If you have a heavy sweating issue
This list is just the tip of the iceberg. 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 routine.
Your hearing aids need to be cared for
Your hearing aid isn’t maintenance-free just because it’s resistant to water. Between sweat-filled runs, it will be wise to make sure that you clean your hearing aids and keep them dry.
In some instances, that could mean purchasing a dehumidifier. But in most situations, a clean dry storage place will work fine (depending on where you live). But some types of moisture can leave residue (like sweat), so to get the best benefits, you will also want to take enough time to clean your hearing aids completely.
If your hearing aids get wet, what can you do?
Just because waterproof hearing aids don’t exist 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 let your hearing aid dry and check in with us to make sure that they aren’t damaged, especially 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.