Water Resistant vs. Waterproof Hearing Aids: What’s the Difference?Published On: May 22, 2019
48 million Americans have significant hearing loss.
At least 10 million of these individuals wear hearing aids.
While the majority of those who wear hearing aids are older adults, children also wear hearing aids. In fact, 90% of deaf or hard of hearing children are born to hearing adults.
Whether you’re shopping for a hearing aid for yourself or for your child, you’ll need to understand the difference between water resistant and waterproof hearing aids.
This is especially important if you or your child is very active or wants to participate in water sports.
In this article, we’ll explain the difference between the two. After reading you’ll be more informed as to which hearing aid is best for you or your child.
As a Hearing Aid Wearer, Why Should I Care About Water Resistant or Waterproof Hearing Aids?
If you or your child doesn’t participate in water sports or isn’t planning a trip to the pool any time soon, you might wonder why you should care if your hearing aids are waterproof.
However, there are many reasons why it might be important for you or your child to invest in waterproof hearing aids.
If you or your child sweats a lot, this is one reason to consider purchasing hearing aids that are at least water resistant. This is especially important if you or your child participate in sports.
Often times, you’ll sweat quite a lot when exercising, which can lead to the hearing aid malfunctioning. Ensure this doesn’t happen with a water resistant or waterproof hearing aid.
Some people may also forget they’re wearing their hearing aids and accidentally jump in the shower with them. That’s a lot of money to waste for one little mistake. If you have water resistant or waterproof hearing aids, this becomes a non-issue. Forgetting about your hearing aids and grabbing a shower isn’t a problem.
You should also consider water protection if you or your child naturally perspire a lot. This is especially important to consider if you live a hot climate and sweating is the rule and not the exception during the summer months. This way, you’ll be sure your or your child’s hearing aid continue to work, even on the most sweltering of days.
If you or your child suffer with a lot of ear wax, a water resistant or waterproof hearing aid will be a great idea. This is because it will keep the wax from getting into the device itself and causing a problem.
If your child has significant hearing loss and must wear a hearing aid, waterproof or water resistant hearing aids are extremely important for them. We don’t have to tell you that children are naturally active and curious. You can’t predict when a child is going to get wet. From dunking their heads under the faucet to running into a neighbor’s sprinkler, you don’t want you child’s hearing aids to be ruined by a childish moment.
You’ll also want to consider waterproof hearing aids if your child swims or is learning to swim. It can be dangerous for a young child to go in the water without being able to hear you or other adults give him or her instructions. But you also don’t want your child to miss out on this classic past time. With this in mind, a waterproof hearing aid is especially important.
What is The Difference Between Waterproof and Water Resistant Hearing Aids?
There is a difference between waterproof and water resistant. Waterproof hearing aids have a special casing and use waterproof parts inside of the hearing aid. A waterproof hearing aid can be worn in the water and is ideal for someone who wants to swim often with their hearing aids. It’s also good for children to prevent accidents and so they can bathe with their hearing aids on.
A water resistant hearing aid is not waterproof. This means that while you can submerge it in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes, it can’t withstand long-term use in water.
Water resistant hearing aids are appropriate for those who do not regularly participate in water sports. They are also appropriate for those who lead an active lifestyle and may sweat on their hearing aids.
If you accidentally get in the shower with a water resistant hearing aid, it’s not a problem. But doing this too often might cause issues with the device further down the line.
How Do I Know If My Hearing Aid is Water Resistant?
The International Electrotechnical Commission sets ratings for hearing aids, and the higher the rating, the more water resistant it is.
All models receive two numbers. The higher the numbers are, the more dust and water resistant the hearing aid is.
The first number tells you how protected the hearing aid is against dust.
For example, a 5 for dust protection means that the hearing aid is not entirely protected from dust. However, the amount of dust that can enter and mess with the hearing aid’s capability is very small.
The second number tells you how protected the hearing aid is against water.
A rating of 7 would indicate that the hearing aid can be placed underwater for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter.
Sometimes hearing aids will label themselves as water resistant or “moisture resistant” or “shower resistant,” meaning you can get them a little bit wet. But, you cannot get them too wet, or they can malfunction.
All hearing aids will have their IP rating published. If you do not see it on their website or in a manual, you can ask your provider what their IP rating is before purchasing.
What Do Waterproof Hearing Aids Look Like?
A waterproof hearing aid not only has a case around it to protect it, but it does look a little bit different from a standard hearing aid. Waterproof hearing aids will not only have a high IP rating, but its outer housing is one continuous piece.
This is because the hearing aid cannot have any cracks, seams or pins. These areas would indicate an opening in the hearing aid, which can allow water to get into it.
The battery case of waterproof hearing aids ultimately has its own sealant that allows air through but doesn’t allow water to get in. The microphone and receiver are typically also separately sealed.
These devices will be IP certified to keep out almost 100% of dust particles. Waterproof hearing aids can also be submerged in up to three feet of water without causing it to malfunction.
Caring for a Waterproof or Water Resistant Hearing Aid
Your hearing aids a last long time with the correct care. Even if your hearing aids are waterproof or water resistant, you’ll still need to make sure you clean them when you’re not wearing them. You should also clean out excess water.
You should keep the battery case open when you’re not wearing the hearing aids. You should also use sweat covers and place your hearing aids in a dehumidifying case when you take them out.
Hearing aid dryers also exist, which help keep the moisture on your hearing aid to a minimum. Use these after a day of playing sports, or if you or your child have enjoyed a day at the pool or other outdoor activity involving water.
When you first get your hearing aids, a professional will go over with you the proper way to clean them. When you take them out, you must wipe them down and follow this protocol.
If your child wears hearing aids, you must perform this protocol for him or her. Include them in the process from an early age, however, so they can become responsible for their hearing aids themselves.
Water Resistant Hearing Aid Covers
If you don’t want to invest in waterproof or water resistant hearing aids, you can buy items that protect them in the short term. These items are good for individuals who are not active all of the time but may be active irregularly.
You can purchase ear protection from several companies who make sleeves that go over hearing aids. While these do not protect your hearing aids from submersion in water, they can help if you’re active every once in a while. They can also protect you if you accidentally get in the shower with your hearing aids in or if you get splashed with water without meaning to.
These covers can also help protect your hearing aids against dust and other debris that can get inside of them can interfere with the device.
Sweatbands are made of cloth-like material and go over the hearing aids to protect against moisture. You can wear these every so often, and they protect your hearing aids the way a sweatband might help keep sweat in place when you’re working out.
You can also purchase items that seal out moisture but are meant for one-time use only. These are good for individuals who are not active all that often, but still want to keep their hearing aids in good shape. They’re perfect for an afternoon out, or if you head somewhere like a theme park where you may accidentally get splashed, or where you’ll sweat from the heat or walking a lot.
New Technology for Hearing Aids
Technology is always developing, and as it does, there are more and more breakthroughs in the world of hearing aids. While waterproof hearing aids can only withstand about 3 meters of water, there will likely be waterproof hearing aids introduced in the next few years that can withstand deeper water.
Currently, there is a new technology known as a Nanoblock that many users recommend for everyday wear. It keeps out moisture, oils, earwax and other problems that hearing aid users might encounter.
Purchase Hearing Aid Insurance
If you or your child with hearing aids leads an active lifestyle, one thing you should consider is hearing aid insurance. This way, if something does happen to your hearing aid, you won’t have lost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Instead, you can have them repaired or replaced.
Sometimes, this may cost a little bit, but with hearing aid insurance, it will likely be a lot less than it could have been to purchase an entirely new set.
Don’t Let Your Hearing Aids Limit You
Don’t miss out on activities because you’re afraid of your hearing aids getting wet. Instead, shop smart and anticipate your needs or the needs of your children. With all of the hearing aid technology that has been introduced in recent years, there is no reason why you or your child cannot enjoy a day at the lake, boating, beach days, swimming or participating in any other physical activity.
Waterproof and water resistant hearing aids help give you or your child to participate in the same activities as anyone else.
Should I Choose Waterproof or Water Resistant Hearing Aids?
When wearing hearing aids, you should purchase a hearing aid that has some component of water resistance. This is simply to protect your asset against moisture on your skin, face and your own ear wax. Even if you don’t participate in sports or are not active, it is still incredibly important to have some degree of protection.
You don’t necessarily need waterproof hearing aids unless you or your child plans to participate in water sports or spends a lot of time around water. If that is the case, waterproof hearing aids can allow them to enjoy these activities.
Visit our website for more hearing aid reviews to help you decide which one is appropriate for you.