Have you heard the joke about what happens to your hat when it falls into the Red Sea? It gets wet, right? So, what happens to your hearing aids when they fall into the sea? Or any other body of water for that matter? They get soaked (and they’ll probably disappear into the water). If you manage to retrieve them, can you dry them out the way you’d dry out that hat?
I read an interesting anecdote recently. A man lost his devices during a water sports activity. Not only did they wash up on shore sometime later, they actually still worked! The only thing that was required was a new battery.
I hate to burst your bubble, but the experience of the man in the story is what one might call a “freak of nature”. Hearing aids are not waterproof, but they can be water resistant. In fact, water resistance is a quality that can even be measured.
Part of an audiologist’s training includes the study of IP ratings. My first thought was “huh”? So, I turned to my old friend Google and the information I retrieved informed me that IP is an abbreviation for Ingress Protection. It refers to how well a hearing device rates in terms of “the degree of protection it can provide in certain environments”. Ok. That’s nice and technical. So, what does it really mean? You should be able to see the letters IP followed by two digits somewhere on your device. If you see that your instrument has a rating of IP67, it means your device gives you a level 6 degree of protection against dust (where there are 7 possible levels) and a level 7 protection from moisture, (where you can have a possible IP level of 1-9). Just for your own information, your mobile phone has an IP rating too.
So why should I care?
This data can be valuable when you’re looking for your next hearing aid. You can use this as a criterion by which to compare different devices. It is also more important for some people than others. You should consider your IP rating if:
- you perspire heavily and you’re constantly wiping moisture from your face.
- you live in humid/wet climates.
- you enjoy water-related activities.
- you’re forgetful or absent-minded. What do I that mean by that? Well if you’re at the point where your device feels so comfortable you aren’t even aware that it’s there, you might just forget to take them out before you enter the shower. Don’t laugh. It’s happened to me. More than once.
Well, I’ll remember that for the next set of devices, but what about my current pair?
How does moisture even get into the hearing aids if you don’t fit into any of the 4 categories above? Any moisture in one’s environment can enter through the battery compartment or via the tube that goes into your ear canal. It seems inevitable that you’ll get a certain amount of moisture in your hearing aids. To keep moisture to the minimum, be proactive.
Dry your hearing aid(s) every day. The best time to do this is when you take your hearing aids out for the night. Open the battery door fully to allow air to circulate. This applies whenever your hearing aids are not in your ears.
Keep your hearing aids in a dry environment but keep them out of direct sunlight and away from any heat source – excess heat can harm the hearing aid circuit.
Consider using drying capsules or a “dry-aid” kit. Remember that small capsule that came with your hearing aid when your first got it? You’ve probably seen something similar when you’ve purchased new shoes too. It contains moisture-absorbing crystals. The capsule fits into a compartment in your hearing aid container. You may have noticed that the colour of the crystals change colour. This is normal and is an indication that the crystals are working. When the crystals have permanently changed colour, it is time to replace the capsule.
Your ear canal produces earwax, that can build up and clog up the sound outlet or the ventilation opening, resulting in weak, distorted sound or even complete absence of sound. You need to remove excess wax, but NEVER clean your hearing aids with any type of liquid, including an alcohol solution. To clean the instruments, wipe them down with a dry, clean, soft cloth. and store them in a place that has access to air flow.
It’s not rocket science, but keeping your hearing aids away from water will keep them user-friendly for many years of perfect hearing.
I was seen by Tami Mehl at my ripe old age of 85. It is an absolute pleasure to have dealt with someone who is so respectful and caring of us old folks. With her patience and understanding, she walked me through the hearing tests and sorted out the best hearing aids for my lifestyle. I would certainly recommend Tami to all of my friends. I cannot express my gratitude in how the hearing aids have enhanced my lifestyle.