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

As a swimmer, you enjoy being 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 bit…louder… than normal today. And then you realize your oversight: you went in the pool with your hearing aid in. And you don’t know if it’s waterproof or not.

Generally, this would be somewhat of a worry. Normally, contemporary hearing aids are resistant to water to some degree. But being resistant to water isn’t the same as actually being waterproof.

Hearing aids and water resistance ratings

Generally speaking, your hearing aids are going to function best when they are kept clean and dry. But for most hearing aids, it won’t be a problem if you get a little water on them. It all depends on something called an IP rating–that’s the officially allocated water resistance number.

The IP number works by assigning every hearing aid a two digit number. The first digit represents the device’s resistance to dirt, dust, and other kinds of dry erosion.

The number here that we’re really considering though, is the second digit which signifies the hearing aid’s resistance to water. The greater the number, the longer the device will last under water. 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 around a half hour.

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

Is water resistance worthwhile?

The advanced electronics inside of your hearing aid case won’t do well with water. Ordinarily, you’ll want to take out your hearing aids before you go swimming or hop into the shower or depending on the IP rating, go outside in excessively humid weather. No amount of water resistance will help if you drop your hearing aids in the deep end of the pool, but there are some situations where a high IP rating will definitely be to your advantage:

  • If you perspire significantly, whether at rest or when exercising (sweat, after all, is a kind of water)
  • You have a passion for water sports (like fishing or boating); the spray from the boat could warrant high IP rated hearing aids
  • If you live in a really humid, rainy, or wet environment
  • You have a history of forgetting to take your hearing aids out before you shower or go out into the rain

This is certainly not an exhaustive list. It’ll be up to you and your hearing specialist to consider your day-to-day life and determine just what type of water resistance is strong enough for your routine.

You have to care for your hearing aids

It’s important to note that water-resistant doesn’t mean maintenance-free. Between sweat-filled runs, it will be smart to ensure that you clean your hearing aids and keep them dry.

In some circumstances, that could mean obtaining a dehumidifier. But in most cases, a clean dry storage place will work fine (depending on where you live). But some types of moisture can leave residue (like sweat), so to get the best results, you will also want to take enough time to clean your hearing aids thoroughly.

If your hearing aids get wet, what should you do?

If waterproof hearing aids don’t exist, should you panic when your devices get wet? Well, no–mostly because panicking won’t improve anything anyway. But you need to give your hearing aids sufficient time to dry out entirely and if they have a low IP rating, we can help you determine if there is any damage.

The IP rating on your hearing aid will give you a concept of what you can expect when it comes to possible water damage. At the very least, try to remember to take your hearing aids out before you go swimming. The drier your hearing devices remain, the better.

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