As a swimmer, you enjoy being in the water. The pool is like your second home (when you were younger, everybody said you were part fish–that’s how often you wanted to go swimming). The water seems a bit…louder… than usual today. And that’s when you notice you may have made a mistake: you brought your hearing aids into the pool. And you aren’t really sure those tiny electronic devices are waterproof.
Normally, this would be somewhat of a worry. Hearing aids are frequently constructed with some level of water resistance in mind. But a device that resists water is much different than a device that’s waterproof.
Hearing aids and water resistance ratings
Keeping your hearing aids clean and dry is the best way to keep them in proper working order. But some hearing aids are made so a little splash here and there won’t be a problem. It all depends on something known as an IP rating–that’s the officially allocated water resistance number.
The IP number works by giving every hearing aid a two digit number. The first digit shows the device’s resistance to dirt, dust, and other forms of dry erosion.
The second number (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 a device with a rating of IP87 will be very resistant to sand and work for about thirty minutes in water.
Some modern hearing aids can be really water-resistant. But there are no hearing aids presently available that are entirely waterproof.
Is water resistance worthwhile?
The sophisticated electronics inside of your hearing aid case won’t mesh well with water. Normally, you’ll want to remove your hearing aids before you go for a swim or jump into 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 help much, but there are other circumstances where it can be useful:
- If you sweat significantly, whether at rest or when exercising (sweat, after all, is a type of water)
- If the climate where you live is rainy or overly humid
- There have been times when you’ve forgotten to take your hearing aid out before going into the rain or shower
- You have a proclivity for water sports (such as boating or fishing); the spray from the boat may call for high IP rated hearing aids
This list is just the tip of the iceberg. Of course, what degree of water resistance will be sufficient for your day-to-day life will only be able to be identified after a consultation.
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.
In some cases, that could mean obtaining a dehumidifier. But in most cases, a nice dry storage place will work fine (depending on where you live). But certain types of moisture can leave residue (like sweat), so to get the best results, you will also want to take the proper time to clean your hearing aids completely.
What should 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 entirely 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 approximated based on the IP rating. At least, try not to forget to take your hearing aids out before you go swimming. It’s best to keep your hearing aids as dry as possible.