Water Resistant vs. Waterproof Hearing Aids

Until recent times, you could not get your hearing aids wet at any condition. Just like any other electronic device available in the market, the internal parts of a hearing aid are also not meant to get wet. If moisture such as water, sweat, or other liquids were to reach the following parts. It could cause corrosion, sound distortion, circuit fuse and many other electronic issues.

For people who sweat more as compared to others, live in humid places, or simply spend time around water. This is a significant concern. No one likes to lose their investment over some water droplets. Luckily, hearing aid manufacturers understand their concern and manufacture water resistant and, in some cases, even waterproof hearing aids.

Is there any difference between water resistant and waterproof?

It’s crucial to understand the answer to this question. These terms aren’t interchangeable, and mixing them up can have disastrous consequences for your devices. Here some differences are mentioned so as to let you make an educated decision while choosing between water-resistant and waterproof hearing aids. And also understand the type of moisture your hearing aid can withstand.

Here, we will also discuss some of the most exciting and effective hearing aids available on the market today.

Water Resistant Hearing Aids

Prior to the invention of water-resistant hearing aids, moisture from various sources could have caused the malfunction or complete break down of your hearing aid. If you buy a hearing aid which is water resistant, like many other models available, this means it will continue to function despite an exposure to a small amount of moisture.

To protect the important parts of the hearing aids from damage, they are usually coated with a sealant. However, water-resistant devices won’t be functioning as before if they’re submerged in water or exposed to moisture for a longer duration. Such as a heavy rainstorm, or when showering, bathing, or swimming.

In layman language, it isn’t advised to jump in a pool while wearing water-resistant hearing aids. However, it will be okay to walk through a light rain or get a little sweaty while using them.

Water-resistant hearing aids might be a good option due to the following reasons:

  • If you live in a humid region/climatic condition
  • Your skin is oily
  • If you tend to produce a lot of earwax
  • Your concern about the sweat

Best Water-Resistant Hearing Aids

Phonak Lyric –It is the dream of an active person. This is a completely invisible hearing aid which can be worn for months in a single stretch even without worrying about batteries or removal. It can be used even while sleeping or in the shower. You can play in the sprinklers, run in the rain, enjoy the water balloon fight. And forget your worries about wearing hearing aids.

Oticon Alta2, Nera2 & Ria2 are the few examples of hearing aids from Oticon. These are made to specifically withstand the elements in daily life activities. They come in multiple styles and performance levels with an IP rating of “58”. It is important to understand that even though your hearing device may have a high IP rating. But this does not mean that you can go for swimming in your hearing aid. Even if your hearing aids are water resistant, it shouldn’t be worn while swimming or during any other water sports.

Waterproof Hearing Aids

There is a next level protection against moisture in waterproof hearing aid. As compared to water-resistant devices, these are quite rear and different.

For a hearing aid to be waterproof, it is required to have outer housing as a single solid piece. There can’t be any seams, cracks, screws, or pins in the outer housing of the device. Water might enter the device, so the battery case, microphone, or receiver must be sealed off separately for further protection from dust and other things that might cause problems. A special type of sealant is needed for the battery case that allows the entry and exit of air but keeps water out. Along with that they also protect hearing aid from 100% of dust particles as well as some extent of shock.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) rates the Waterproof hearing aids. This is to indicate, how much water it can take before dying down. The most advanced of these devices are certified to prevent 100% of dust particles and withstand three feet of water submersion.

You can confidently wear your waterproof hearing aids in situations where they might get in contact with, even in the shower.

Best Waterproof Hearing Aids

Siemens Aquaris– This hearing aid was unveiled by Siemens in 2011, which is the first truly waterproof hearing aid in the market. The Aquaris remains the premier waterproof hearing aid till date. It has already received rave reviews from its customers. Along with being waterproof, this hearing device is also shockproof as well as extremely durable. With this hearing aid, you can now go for surfing, swimming or kayaking. You can even listen to music while you swim with the help of your hearing devices.

Waterproof vs. Water Resistant: What’s the Difference?

Always remember that waterproof and water-resistant hearing aids are not the same thing, they are poles apart from each other. A waterproof hearing aid comes with a single-piece casing. It uses specialty waterproof membranes between different compartments as well as around sensitive components. A waterproof device is rated to withstand continuous submersion in water over three feet. 

However, there are not many hearing aids which are waterproof, rather they are water-resistant. Some manufacturers also use terms like “shower resistant” or “moisture resistant” to define them. Water resistant means the hearing aids will keep out moisture—for the most part, but not all. There are chances that these aids will probably not stand up to continuous submersion in water and still maintain their functioning.

Protection Rating for the Hearing Aids

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is a worldwide governing body which is meant to set ratings for consumer products based on their protection against dust, debris, water, or other intrusive elements. The rating set by them is called an IP Code (or International Protection Marking/Rating). This IP Code can be used to determine how water- and dust-proof a consumer product is, including hearing aids.

The IP code is a little complicated to understand. But essentially, the higher the numbers in the code (i.e. 0-9), the better protection the hearing aid provides against dust and moisture. Based on this documented testing, an object is given an “IP” rating consisting two numbers. All the waterproof and water-resistant hearing aids with an IP rating of IP67 or IP68 are classified as “dustproof.”

The first number depicts an object’s level of protection against dust or debris and ranges from 0 to 6. This means “6” details the highest level of protection for the product even if it is exposed to dust for almost 8 hours. The second number depicts an object’s protection level against moisture which ranges from 0 to 8. Where “8” details the highest level of protection for the product. The “7” and “8” distinguish if the device is water-resistant or waterproof.

For example, The IP57 rating for ReSound hearing aids mean:

  • 5: Dust protected: Dust cannot be prevented entirely from entering the product, but the amount is reduced so that it should not interfere with the operation of the hearing aid electronics.
  • 7: Water protected: The product can be submerged in almost 1m of water for up to 30 minutes and still function normally. 

Although it’s not recommended to do all such tests yourself. You can rest assured what an IP57 rating means if you accidentally drop your devices in the sink or jump in the shower without realizing they are still on. The devices will most probably be just fine. Nowadays, many major hearing aid manufacturers mention their hearing aid IP Codes on their website or in the product specifications. 

Caring for your Hearing Aids

Any type of hearing aid is an important tool as well as an investment, so it will be a good idea to protect them from any damage. Even water-resistant and waterproof hearing aids are recommended for special care. Here are some ways to accomplish this:

  • Use a Dehumidifier –  The hearing aids can be stored in a dehumidifier. There are two types of dehumidifiers. It can be a simple case containing a moisture-absorbing packet (including a desiccant or small packet of crystals). In a more advanced case, it includes a tiny electric fan which dries the hearing aids. Store your hearing aids in a dehumidifier case if not in use. It will depend on your climate, personal needs, and budget, which type of dehumidifier you choose.
  • Use Sweat covers – Hearing aid sweat covers or sweatbands are little moisture-absorbing socks meant for your hearing aids. These are often used to protect the devices against sweat while being worn, such as during exercise. The cost can vary from $20 per pair to $30 per cover. Compare the price online to get a good idea of the product range available and what might work best for you.
  • Wipe down the hearing aid after use – Always use a clean, dry cloth to wipe any dust, earwax, and other moisture off your devices. Always wipe your hearing aids down as soon as you take them off. Follow the cleaning instructions mentioned for the device or consult the professional. Wiping down can clean any excess moisture or dust off the outer casing and prevent them from entering the device.
  • Open the battery doors if not in use – This may sound implausible—but as believed, “won’t opening up the battery door let moisture in”? Opening the battery door when not in use lets the free flow of air through the device and dry up any moisture that may have got trap inside the casing while you were wearing them. If you let the battery case remain open while you sleep, excess moisture will evaporate and escape. A Fun fact about this trick is that it will also help your batteries last longer while saving you enough money in the long run.

Consulting A Professional

Please don’t hesitate to contact a professional if you have any questions or concerns regarding the following types of hearing aids. They will discuss all the options available to you and help you to find hearing aids that meet all your hearing and lifestyle needs. At Hearing Sol, we have a team of experienced hearing care professionals who can answer all your questions and queries (if any). They will work with you to find the best solution for your listening needs.

Water Resistant vs. Waterproof Hearing Aids
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