Most hearing aids on the market today are moisture-proof or water resistant and not completely waterproof. A waterproof hearing aid is one that can remain immersed underwater for an indefinite period of time and continue working. Even those hearing aids that are described as waterproof can struggle in the chlorine found in a pool, the salt found in the ocean, or even the water pressure produced by a hose or fountain. The truth is, water resistant or waterproof hearing aids are ideal for anyone who wears a hearing device both for protection and peace of mind. If you jump in the pool with your hearing aids in, forget to take them out before getting in the shower, live in a humid environment, or even work in an environment with a lot of debris or environmental factors that could enter your hearing aids, then a water resistant device is important for you. The following article will discuss waterproof and water resistant hearing aids and help you understand how important this feature is for you.
Are waterproof hearing aids completely waterproof?
Truly waterproof hearing aids that can be completely submerged underwater for an indefinite period of time. Siemens made one for a while and there is a new device by Phonak that is said to be waterproof, but they are definitely not mainstream. The much more common thing for a hearing aid is for it to be water resistant. Water resistant hearing aids offer some protection against moisture so that, while you cannot jump in the pool or shower, you can work in the garden or get caught in a quick rainstorm without fearing that your hearing aids will be destroyed.
Every hearing aid receives two “IP” ratings that give you a number rating from one to eight based on how resistant to dust and moisture they are. The higher the number, the more resistant they are. The first number rates the degree of protection against debris. The more important one for this article is the second number that rates how water resistant the hearing aids are. You may see a hearing aid with a rating of “IP67” and the seven tells you that it is strongly water resistant. Here is a chart to help you understand what the waterproof number ratings mean, and remember it is always the second number after the letters “IP”:
- 0: No protection against water.
- 1: Protected against condensation.
- 2: Protected against spraying water when tilted at least 15-degrees vertically.
- 3: Protected against spraying water when tilted 60-degrees vertically.
- 4: Protected against splashing water.
- 5: Protected against low pressure water streams.
- 6: Protected against high pressure water streams.
- 7: Protected against water immersion for up to 30 minutes and at a depth of up to 1 meter.
- 8: Protected against all underwater conditions.
Do you need water-resistant hearing aids?
Most people are not consistently in environments where waterproof hearing aids are needed. At the same time, some degree of water resistance is important to anyone simply because of normal, everyday life. Here are some things you should consider in your decision on whether or not a higher IP number is important to you:
- If you perspire heavily. Whether you work in a hot environment or you workout/exercise a lot, if you are prone to sweat a lot then your hearing aids are probably exposed to enough moisture to warrant a higher IP number.
- If you enjoy “water” hobbies. If you are into fishing, boating, or any other activity near or on the water, then you should consider a higher IP number.
- If you live in humid or wet climates.
- If you are forgetful or absent-minded. If you have ever accidentally worn socks in the shower or jumped in the pool with your wallet then you should consider higher water resistance ratings. Hearing aids are comfortable and when you get used to them, it can be easy to forget that they are there.
What’s the Difference Between Waterproof and Water-Resistant Hearing Aids?
A waterproof hearing aid is a hearing aid that can withstand submersion in water for an extended period of time. Oftentimes, a waterproof electronic device will come with a depth that you can submerge beyond, but the amount of time the object is in water does not matter, and the device will continue to work at an optimal level.
A water resistance device is one that has some measure of resilience against water damage, but at a certain measurable point, the device will be damaged or destroyed by water. As mentioned above, there is an “IP” rating that describes the level of water resistance offered by each hearing aid.
The bottom line is that the difference between a water resistance and a waterproof hearing aid is that the term “water resistant” designates a device that is protected against water to a specified point, but when that point is reached the protection is gone. Waterproof designates a device that is completely safe at any level of contact with water no matter how long and how deep it is submerged. Most hearing aids are water resistant and not waterproof, but the caveat is that there is not a technical definition for either term when it comes to hearing aids so there is no clear-cut difference between the two.
Do Waterproof Hearing Aids Work?
The idea of a completely waterproof hearing aid does not really exist on the market because no hearing aid can function normally while constantly maintaining contact with water over an extended period of time. There are a couple of hearing aids that you can swim while wearing, and a few have an “IP68” rating which means they are highly dust-resistant and highly water-resistant at the same time. Some of the hearing aids that have an IP68 rating are:
- Phonak hearing aids on the “Belong” platform.
- Oticon OPN hearing aids.
- Most of the Unitron Moxi hearing aids.
Water resistant hearing aids work well, but the idea of a completely waterproof hearing aid does not yet exist. While you should not shower or swim in your hearing aids, hearing aid technology today has progressed to the point that many of the best models do have some level of resistance against water.
Basics of Hearing Aid Care
Hearing aids are small electronic devices, and if you have ever owned a computer or a smartphone, then you know moisture and water are the enemies to any electronic device. As far as hearing aid care goes, here are some things to consider to keep your hearing aids moisture free:
- Avoid Moisture. This one seems obvious, but keeping your hearing aids away from showers, pools, rain storms, etc. is the first step. One way to make sure this happens is to keep your hearing aid case with you as often as possible so if there is moisture in the environment you can protect them.
- Clean Them. Wipe down your device every day, dry them with a cloth to clear both moisture and debris.
- Hearing Aid Dryer. These are small appliances that can act as storage container, dryer, and sterilizer and it can do all of these things as you sleep.
- Hearing Aid Covers. There are water resistant and waterproof hearing aid covers out there that can help protect your device if you spend a lot of time in a moist environment.
- Store Correctly. Store your hearing aids, no matter the brand or style, in a cold and dry environment. Make sure that the room where your hearing aid is stored is not too hot, not in direct sunlight, and not too humid. Also if you can, leave the storage container slightly open so that any moisture can be naturally evaporated.
Talk To An Audiologist
Like with any other hearing aid purchase, when it comes to water resistance, the best thing you can do is talk to your audiologist about your needs. No matter how much research you do or how sure you are about a purchase, you cannot have all of the information you need to make a purchase as potentially life-changing as a hearing aid. Your audiologist has product knowledge, experience with hearing aids, and the benefits of conducting a thorough hearing test and screening as well. If you sit down with your audiologist and explain to them what your life is like and why water resistance is important to you, then they will be able to walk you through why some devices are better than others while taking into account the totality of your needs.