Will Water Damage My Hearing Aids?

Elderly couple at beach

Like many different kinds of headphones and cellular devices in our modern day, almost all hearing aids for sale are not completely waterproof. They are, however, water-resistant. This means that they can handle some exposure to moisture and water droplets, but they cannot be fully submerged in water.

There are tiny sensitive electronic components of hearing aids that cannot come into direct contact with water, or else they will lose their ability to function properly. Most hearing aids ought to be kept at a distance from any kind of moisture because of their composition. 

Do waterproof hearing aids even exist?

According to the company Phonak, their Audeo Life hearing aid is able to withstand water submersion of up to around 50 cm in depth. Additionally, the company claims that their hearing aids can be submerged in different kinds of water without damage, such as saltwater or pool water.

What can I do to tell just how water-resistant my hearing aids are? 

The IP rating of your hearing aids can give you this valuable information. According to experts, every hearing aid company needs to provide two “IP” ratings on a scale of 1 to 9 to demonstrate how much their particular brand of hearing aids can handle exposure to water and dust. The first rating demonstrates the amount of protection hearing aids has against minute solid particles like dust or sand. This rating is on a scale of 1-7. The second rating tells you how resistant the electrical parts of the hearing aids are to moisture exposure. This rating is always on a scale of 1-9 and will show you how water-resistant your hearing aids are. 

For example, a hearing aid with the rating of IP66 tells you that the hearing aid has partial protection from dust and can withstand water droplet exposure but cannot be submerged in water at all. The second digit of the IP rating must be at least 7 to demonstrate some ability to be submerged in water without severe damage. 

How important is having water-resistant/waterproof hearing aids? 

There are a variety of factors to keep in mind before choosing the minimum IP rating you require for hearing aids. Here are a few things to think about when making this decision: 

  1. You enjoy water-related activities, such as fishing or riding jet-skis
  2. You live in humid/tropical environment. This kind of climate may make it a necessity for you to purchase hearing aids with a certain amount of water-resistance
  3. You sweat extensively. If you sweat often, whether you are engaging in high-energy activities (such as sports or home construction) or not, you probably need hearing aids with water-resistance

The need for waterproof hearing aids really depends on how mindful you are of the presence of your hearing aids. If you often forget that they are on your ears, you may accidentally hop in the shower or into the pool without even realizing it. If this is the case, it may be best to invest in waterproof hearing aids that can handle submersion much more effectively than hearing aids with lower IP ratings.

 Protecting my hearing aids if I am around a lot of water

You might feel discouraged reading this article so far, especially if you are a natural-born water lover. There are plenty of measures you can take though to keep your hearing aids safe and still be able to enjoy your regular water sports/activities. Here are some of the best ways you can protect your hearing aids from excess moisture:

  • Purchase hearing aid clips and sleeves
    • If you plan on being around water but not submerged in it (such as near sprinklers or under light rain), it might be a good idea to find a hearing accessory that you can wear
    • Most sleeves you can find on the market will fit all hearing aids sizes and are composed of water-resistant nylon material. This kind of accessory can protect all electrical components of your hearing aid and will even allow sound to still enter the microphone of the device. Keep sleeves will not be able to protect hearing aids from full submersion in water.
    • The importance of cords is that they can attach to the sleeve and clip onto another article of clothing. This can keep your hearing aids from accidentally falling where they could be damaged by water submersion or even blunt impact.
  • Look into hearing aid storage containers
    • There are a variety of different waterproof hearing aid containers you can purchase to keep inside a boat compartment while on the lake, for example. A good place to look for these particular containers is in sporting goods stores. You can keep these relatively cheap containers anywhere, so it may be a good idea to buy a handful and keep them in places where you will remember to pick up and use them.
  • Ziploc baggies—just in case
    • It may be helpful to have some zip-seal bags lying around, as they can come in handy in case of emergencies (such as unexpected heavy rain). These bags are not always the best at creating a completely water-tight seal, so be mindful of this and try not to allow the bags to be submerged. 
  • Hearing aid dryers
    • Even if you take every precautionary measure, life works in its own mysterious ways, and you may find your hearing aids submerged in water at home or out in nature. If this happens, it is important to get them out of the water immediately and dry them as soon as possible. The first step after removing them from the water is to remove the batteries. Dry the battery compartment then place your hearing aids into a hearing aid dryer overnight. Chances are, if your hearing aids still do not work properly the next day, you will need to take them in to get repaired or replaced by an expert. 

Think about what kind of hearing aids you need personally in terms of potential for water exposure

If you live somewhere like the Southeastern United States or in an area near the equator, chances are your hearing aids will be exposed to excessive moisture from the humidity. In this case, it is probably a good idea to invest in hearing aids with relatively high IP ratings to ensure that you are not constantly taking them in to be repaired for water damage.

A warranty can save you hundreds

Make sure to look into the warranty when you purchase a new set of hearing aids, as many of them will likely come with 1-year protection from loss or damage. It might be helpful to invest in an extended warranty if the company offers one, especially if you know you will be around water often for leisure or work purposes. 

For optimally working hearing aids, it is best to keep them dry

Constantly keeping your hearing aids dry and clean can ensure that they work at their maximum capacity, allowing you to hear better. Besides dusting off your hearing aids every night, you can also open the battery compartment to allow for any moisture to evaporate before you need to use your hearing aids again the next morning. 

To get more information on the type of hearing aid that would be best for you specifically, you should consult your audiologist or make an appointment with a reputable hearing aid company. Remember, if you do not own waterproof hearing aids, try your best to keep your hearing aids from being exposed to excess moisture or from being submerged in water at all.