Louisville Family Audiology - Louisville, KY

Woman with hearing aids in her ears wearing a backpack overlooking a lake on a summer day.

As a swimmer, you enjoy going 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 little…louder… than normal today. And that’s when you realize you might have made a mistake: you brought your hearing aids into the pool. And you aren’t really sure those little electronic devices are waterproof.

Usually, this would be somewhat of a worry. Hearing aids are typically constructed with some level of water resistance in mind. But a device that resists water is a lot different than a device that’s waterproof.

Water resistance ratings and hearing aids

Keeping your hearing aids dry and clean is the best way to keep them in proper working order. But some hearing aids are made so a little splatter here and there won’t be a problem. 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 given a two-digit number. The device’s resistance to dust, sand, and other forms of dry erosion is delineated by the first number.

The number here that we’re really interested in though, is the second digit which signifies the hearing aid’s resistance 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 fine under water for about 30 minutes.

Some contemporary hearing aids can be quite water-resistant. But there are no hearing aids presently available that are entirely waterproof.

Is water resistance worthwhile?

Your hearing aids have sophisticated electronics inside them which can be damaged by moisture. Ordinarily, you’ll want to take out your hearing aids before you go swimming or jump into the shower or depending on the IP rating, sit 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 situations where it can be useful:

  • If you have a heavy sweating issue
  • You have a record of forgetting to take out your hearing aid before you take a shower or go out into the rain
  • You have a passion for water sports (like boating or fishing); the spray from the boat could call for high IP rated hearing aids
  • If the climate where you live is rainy or excessively humid

This list is only a small sample. It’ll be up to you and your hearing specialist to take a look at your day-to-day life and figure out just what sort of water resistance is strong enough for your routine.

Your hearing aids need to be taken care of

It’s worthwhile to mention that water-resistant does not mean maintenance-free. Between sweat-filled runs, it will be wise to make sure that you clean your hearing aids and keep them dry.

You might, in some scenarios, need to get a dehumidifier. In other circumstances, it may just mean keeping your hearing aids in a nice 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.

What should you do if your hearing aids get wet?

Just because waterproof hearing aids don’t exist doesn’t mean you should panic if your hearing aid gets wet. Well, no–mostly because panicking won’t improve anything anyway. But you need to give your hearing aids sufficient time to dry out completely and if they have a low IP rating, we can help you find out if there is any damage.

How much damage your hearing aid has sustained can be approximated based on the IP rating. If you can abstain from getting your hearing aids wet, you will get the best results. The drier your hearing devices remain, the better.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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