This week in the Hearing Loss Community group on Facebook, a question was asked, and Peggy, one of my students, brought it to my attention. It seemed to interest a lot of people, so I decided to write a blog post about it, hoping that what I learned can help other hearing-aid users.
Here’s the question:
I wish my hearing aids were waterproof. I want to go to the pool. What do you guys do when you want to go swimming, but your hearing aids aren’t waterproof? I can’t take out my hearing aids cuz i hear absolutely nothing with them out.
Going to the pool is a topic that hits very close to home, as I’d spent the last year living on the tropical island of Bali and got invited to beach or pool parties frequently.
Spending time conversing with others near splashing water is indeed one of the most stressful situations a hearing-aid user will endure, but with a few tricks, it can be much better.
Since I want to talk about quite a few tips, I’ll write two separate articles:
- Part 1: Can you wear your hearing aids at the pool?
- Part 2: How do you communicate when you can’t wear your hearing aids at the pool?
So, here comes Part 1!
No matter the situation you’re in, if you have hearing loss, you want to wear your hearing aids as often as possible. The problem is: how can you wear them safely when you’re surrounded by roaming kids doing water bombs?
Nobody wants to throw away a pair of multi-thousand dollar devices just to hang out with friends at the local pool.
First, most hearing aids nowadays are considered waterproof. Well…splash proof.
Splash proof means that you can’t swim in them, but they won’t get damaged if you get accidentally hit by a water balloon.
Even if they’re labeled as waterproof, though, you don’t want to put your hearing aids underwater for two reasons:
- Water will likely damage the hearing-aid battery and stop it from working
- Waterproof ratings only applies to clean water. Sea or pool water are salty or chlorinated, neither of which is good for your hearing aids
How to know if your hearing aids are waterproof
Check that they have high IP ratings such as IP67 or IP68. The first number 6 tells you the level of dust protection. 6 is the maximum in the 0-6 scale, so it essentially means that your hearing aids are dustproof.
The second number is the level of water or moisture protection, this scale goes from 0-8, and 7 or 8 means waterproof.
If you have IP67 or IP68 hearing aids, you can sit down and relax, knowing that they are well protected from splashes.[To find out what IP Rating you have, you can Google your model’s specifications or, alternatively, you can ask your audiologist]
What to do if I get splashed?
If you do get a splash, what you’d want to do is to remove the battery immediately, dry your hearing aids with a dry-cloth and put them to dry.
I realise that splash proof isn’t ideal for hearing-aid users. I wish all hearing aids were waterproof, so we could enjoy any kind of water sports stress-free. Unfortunately, we can’t do that with most hearing aids, but I do appreciate that I no longer have to stress out that someone will splash me while I’m reading my Kindle.
To tell the truth, a while back Siemens released fully waterproof hearing aids called Aquaris. I haven’t tried them, and I suspect that they are based on slightly outdated technology. But if you really care about hearing while swimming, they could be worth a try.
Alright but…what if my hearing aids aren’t even splash proof?
Well, you need extra protection. You can use an ear band like this one or a hearing aid sleeve. None of these will let you snorkel in the Red Sea, but you get an additional barrier between your hearing aids and the water.
If you’re worried that the ear band is too noticeable, it can turn in your favour. If people ask you why you’re wearing a band, you can take the opportunity to warn others that you’re wearing hearing aids, and you want to stay clear of water.
We’ll talk about more ways to educate others that you’re wearing hearing aids and more importantly, how to communicate with people when you’re not wearing them.
Part 2 of this article will go out of my newsletter next Friday, sign up here to receive it and you’ll also receive my FREE eBook “Hear Better at Restaurants”.
To be continued!