As a swimmer, you love being in the water. The pool is like your second home (when you were younger, everyone said you were part fish–that’s how regularly you wanted to go swimming). The water seems a bit…louder… than normal today. And that’s when you notice you may have made a mistake: you wore your hearing aids into the pool. And you aren’t entirely certain those tiny electronic devices are waterproof.
Usually, this would be somewhat of a worry. Hearing aids are often designed with some amount of water resistance in mind. But being resistant to water is not the same as actually being waterproof.
Hearing aids and water resistance ratings
Keeping your hearing aids clean and dry is the best way to keep them in good working order. But some hearing aids are manufactured so a little splash here and there won’t be a big deal. It all depends on something called an IP rating–that’s the officially allocated water resistance number.
Here’s how the IP rating works: every hearing aid is assigned a two-digit number. The first number signifies the device’s resistance against dirt, dust, and other types of dry erosion.
The second digit (and the one we’re really interested in here) signifies 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 quite resistant to sand and function for about thirty minutes in water.
Although there aren’t any hearing aids currently available that are completely waterproof, there are some that can have a high water resistance rating.
Is water resistance worthwhile?
The intricate electronics inside your hearing aid case won’t mesh well with water. Normally, you’ll want to remove your hearing aids before you go swimming or jump in the shower or depending on the IP rating, go outside 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 have a passion for water sports (like fishing or boating); the spray from the boat might call for high IP rated hearing aids
- If you live in a really humid, rainy, or wet environment
- If you sweat significantly, whether at rest or when exercising (sweat, after all, is a kind of water)
- You have a history of forgetting to take out your hearing aid before you take a shower or go out into the rain
This is surely not a complete list. It’ll be up to you and your hearing specialist to evaluate your daily life and determine just what kind of water resistance is strong enough for your life.
You have to care for your hearing aids
Your hearing aid is not maintenance-free just because it’s water resistant. Between sweat-filled runs, it will be wise to ensure that you clean your hearing aids and keep them dry.
You might, in some situations, need to purchase 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 some moistures including sweat.
What can you do if your hearing aids get wet?
If waterproof hearing aids don’t exist, should you panic when your devices get wet? Well, no–mostly because panicking won’t improve anything anyway. But you need to give your hearing aids enough time to dry out thoroughly 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 estimated based on the IP rating. At the very least, try to remember to take your hearing aids out before you go swimming. It’s best to keep your hearing aids as dry as possible.