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8/15/2018

Difference between Waterproof and Water-Resistant Hearing Aids

Waterproof or water-resistant? What’s the difference? A hearing aid is an investment that we rely upon daily. But this amazing technology is at risk of damage from something we often encounter – water. Let’s explore the differences between both, and how you can use this knowledge to better protect your hearing aids.

What does waterproof mean?

To be fully waterproof, a device should be capable of being submerged in water without incurring damage. To protect the electronics in a hearing aid, this means it has to be a single solid piece, no seams, cracks, screws, or pins.  Moisture can get in through the battery case, microphone, or receiver. Only a special type of sealant allows air to enter an exit, but keeps water out. There are currently no manufacturers making a truly waterproof hearing aid. The last model available was the Siemens Aquaris, which has since been discontinued.

So, what is water-resistant?

Water resistant or repellent means that the product was designed to prevent water damage to itself. If it occasionally gets exposed to a little moisture for a short time, it could still function. However, any more exposure can result in damage. You can tell the level of water and dust resistance of your device by its IP rating.

What are IP ratings?

Most hearing aids are IP 67 or IP 68 rated. The first number is the measure from 0 to 6 of dust protection. The second from 0 to 9 is for moisture. Simply, the higher the number, the better protection. Most aids on the market have excellent dust protection and are water resistant, but you cannot submerge them in water. If you’re interesting in checking the rating of your device, you can check the manufacturers website or speak to one of our audiologists.

Why would I need water resistance?

There are a number of reasons you may need a water resistant device, including:

  • If you are very active, play sports or exercise you run the risk of sweat getting into your device.
  • If you live near the ocean or in a humid area.
  • If spend a lot of time outdoors and could get caught in the rain.
  • If you work in dusty environments.
  • You have oily skin, perspire a lot or produce a lot of earwax.
  • If you spend time near water

What can’t I do with my hearing aid in?

  • Swim
  • Shower (May be possible with IP68 in clean water)
  • Sailing or other water based sports (water resistance doesn’t include protection against chlorine based water, or salt water.
  • Fully submerge

What should you do in case your hearing aid is exposed to moisture?

  1. Use a protective sleeve

Purchase some sweatbands or discreet cloth covers for your hearing aids. They will provide extra protection from moisture. Try to be prepared, if you think it’s likely you will get sweaty, be in a humid area or exposed to moisture, cover your aids.

  1. Clean your hearing aids

The skin on your hands has oil that can potentially damage your hearing aid when you touch it. So be sure to clean your hands before you touch them. Ensure you wipe down your hearing aids after every use with a microfiber cloth. At very least, do this each night before bed. This will remove any earwax, dust, and moisture. Doing this will help prevent avoidable damage and keep them working for longer.

  1. Air out your device when possible

Once you have cleaned your device, leaving the battery doors open at night or in a different room whilst you shower or swim can allow trapped moisture to air out and improve airflow within the unit. This could help your battery last longer.

  1. Invest in a dehumidifier

For extra peace of mind you could consider a recommended dehumidifier to store your hearing aid in overnight. Electric and gel versions are available, and both remove excess moisture from the device whilst it’s not in use.

Want to learn more about how to protect your hearing aids from water damage? Call us on +1 877-499-4327 or click here to Request An Appointment to speak to our audiologist. We’d be delighted to help talk you through your hearing aid choices!

We are hearing experts.

Robert M. Traynor, Ed.D. MBA is the owner and senior audiologist on staff. Dr. Traynor has treated patients in Greeley for more than 40 years and is a widely published expert, audiology professor, and advisor to many leading hearing companies. Learn more about Dr. Traynor.