Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
If you enjoy water sports, boating or you just forget to take your hearing aids out before showering, you might wonder if you need waterproof hearing aids. Actually, that’s a trick question. Currently, there aren’t any hearing aids on the market which are completely waterproof. Most of them, however, are definitely water resistant, and for most hearing aid wearers, that’s probably good enough.
IP ratings and what they mean
You may not be familiar with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), but they’ve probably tested the hearing aids you wear to determine how resistant they are to elements such as dust and water.
Each hearing aid receives a two-digit IP, or Ingress Protection, rating from the IEC. The first digit rates the degree of protection against debris, such as dust or sand, and is rated on a scale of 1-7. The second digit, rated on a scale from 1-9, indicates how resistant the electrical device is to moisture. A hearing aid with an IP 67 rating means it is highly protected against solid objects such as sand or dust and has been tested to work for at least 30 minutes in water less than three feet deep.
Regardless of their IP rating, most hearing aid manufacturers do not recommend submerging any of their devices in water. In fact, some of the counseling you’ll receive from your hearing healthcare professional includes information about how to keep moisture away from your hearing aids. Moisture is no friend to the delicate electronic parts of these expensive devices. These components work best when they are kept clean and dry.
Water resistant hearing aids
Of course, despite our best attempts to be careful, accidents happen. Is owning a hearing aid with a high IP rating for moisture in your best interests? It might be worth considering if:
- You perspire heavily. If you’re constantly wiping perspiration from your face during work or play, your hearing aids are probably exposed to more moisture than most.
- You live in humid/wet climates or enjoy water-related hobbies such as boating or fishing.
- You are forgetful or absent-minded. Some hearing aid wearers say their devices are so comfortable, they completely forget to take them out before they step into the shower.
Dry hearing aids work best
Even if you don’t fit into one of those categories, it’s always a good idea to keep your hearing aids as clean and dry as possible. The following nighttime regimen will help extend their life and keep them working efficiently.
- Wipe them down. Before you go to bed each night, remove the batteries and wipe the entire device with a dry, dust-free cloth.
- Keep the battery compartment door open until the following morning. This allows any moisture they may have collected during the day to evaporate overnight.
- Invest in a dehumidifier. This inexpensive piece of equipment is a good place to store your hearing aids overnight. Ask your hearing healthcare professional for their recommendation or search for one at your local drugstore.
If you’re still confused about what type of hearing aids are best for you, discuss it with your hearing healthcare professional or make an appointment with a clinic in our online directory. Be sure to share as much about your lifestyle as possible, so they can help you choose the best devices for your hearing loss, budget and listening environments. Today’s hearing devices are technological marvels. Chances are, even though completely waterproof devices are not available, water-resistant models are capable of enduring most of what life has to offer.