As a swimmer, you love going in the water. The pool is like your second home (when you were a kid, everyone said you were part fish–that’s how often you wanted to go swimming). The water seems a little…louder… than usual today. And then you recognize your oversight: you went into the pool with your hearing aid in. And you aren’t really certain those little electronic devices are waterproof.
In most cases, you’re right to be a little concerned. Normally, modern hearing aids are resistant to water to some degree. But a device that resists water is a great deal different than a device that’s waterproof.
Water resistance ratings and hearing aids
In general speaking, your hearing aids are going to function best when they are kept dry and clean. But for the majority of 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.
Here’s how the IP rating works: every device is given a two-digit number. The first digit signifies the device’s resistance against dirt, dust, and other forms of dry erosion.
The second digit (and the one we’re really interested in here) represents how resistant your hearing aid is to water. The greater the number, the longer the device will last under water. So if a device has a rating of IP87 it will have really strong resistance to dry erosion and will be fine under water for around 30 minutes.
Some contemporary hearing aids can be quite water-resistant. But there aren’t any hearing aids presently available that are entirely waterproof.
Is water resistance worthwhile?
The sophisticated electronics inside your hearing aid case aren’t going to mesh well with water. Ordinarily, you’ll want to take out your hearing aids before you go for a swim 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 scenarios where it can be useful:
- If the environment where you live is rainy or overly humid
- There have been times when you’ve forgotten to remove your hearing aids before going into the rain or shower
- You have a passion for water sports (such as fishing or boating); the spray from the boat might warrant high IP rated hearing aids
- If you perspire significantly, whether at rest or when exercising (sweat, after all, is a kind of water)
This list is only a small sample. Of course, what degree of water resistance will be adequate for your day-to-day life will only be able to be determined after a consultation.
Your hearing aids need to be cared for
It’s worthwhile to note 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 cases, that could mean investing in a dehumidifier. In other circumstances, it may just mean storing your hearing aids in a nice dry place at night (depending on your climate). But some types of moisture can leave residue (sweat among them), so to get the best results, you will also want to take the proper time to clean your hearing aids completely.
If your hearing aids get wet, what can 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. Well, no–mostly because panicking won’t improve anything anyway. But you will want to completely let your hearing aid dry and consult with us to make sure that they aren’t damaged, especially if they have a low IP rating.
The IP rating on your hearing device will give you a picture of what you can expect in terms of possible water damage. At least, try to remember to remove your hearing aids before you go swimming. The drier your hearing devices remain, the better.