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Posted on Friday, May 03, 2013

Hearing Aid Reviews: Water-Resistant Hearing Aids

Hearing aids can now survive a dunk in a river like this one.

People with hearing loss are presented with unique challenges as summer comes around. Swimming, sweating, and the ever present moisture in some climates means that someone with hearing loss has to take extra precautions to keep their hearing aids dry. Manufacturers have therefore begun to create water-resistant hearing aids to help those with hearing loss enjoy their listening lives even in the summer!

Water is very clever at making its way into all sorts of places and hearing aids are no exception. Manufacturers are now creating water-resistant hearing aids with good success. Still, there is a difference between the more readily available water-resistant hearing aids and the very rare waterproof hearing aids. Water-resistant means it can get wet and stay functional and in some cases can be submersed in a meter of water for up to a half hour. Waterproof means the hearing aid can endure swimming and other underwater sports for any length of time. Currently few hearing aids meet the standard of waterproof.

Water Resistant Hearing Aids

"In 2011, the Phonak Spice+ H2O hearing instruments set a new standard in water resistance and durability – they have been awarded a rating of IP67 in the Ingress Protection standard. Which means the hearing aid, "was not damaged beyond repair after 8 hours in a dust chamber, or after being immersed in 1 meter (3 feet) of water for 30 minutes." Unitron's behind-the-ear and reciever-in-the-ear hearing aids received a very good rating of 57 in the same IP index and so did the entire family of Oticon's hearing aids. This might seem like a huge difference between manufacturers when it comes to water-resistance, but in actuality the first number indicates resistance to dust--and both hearing aids faired well, and the second number, 7--the same in all cases, indicates the water resistant properties. So all of the hearing aids could be immersed in a meter of water for 30 minutes.

Even with water-resistant hearing aids, wearers must beware the pressure certain water sports can put on the aids. Water skiing (pressure and salt water) and diving are high impact sports and the intense flow of water can damage the hearing aids. Saltwater in these sports might also be a problem for these hearing aids as the IP rating doesn't address salt water. In these situations someone with hearing loss might want to avoid wearing their aids. Some manufacturers, like Oticon, do test their hearing aids for immersion in saltwater. Check with your hearing health provider to find out if saltwater is a problem before you buy!

Water Resistant Hearing Aids CROS
CROS H20/Behind-The-Ear

Phonak, has introduced the first ever water-resistant CROS hearing instrument, CROS H20. The CROS is uniquely designed to produce the feeling of bilateral hearing in only one ear. In the past a person unable to hear or deaf in one ear, (meaning that ear can’t be aided by a hearing aid), would have to direct their one “functioning” ear toward sounds. Now Phonak’s CROS system wirelessly delivers the 360 spectrum of sounds into the one hearing ear. This helps individuals to listen in background noise, localize sound, and aides with spatial awareness.

Protecting Hearing Aids from Moisture

Just because a hearing aid is resistant to moisture, doesn't mean that you can totally disregard worrying about moisture. There are a few things a person can do to help stave off moisture and extend the life of the hearing aid. Wipe the outside of the hearing aid daily with a soft, dry cloth or tissue to keep it free of wax and excess moisture. There are many delicate parts inside hearing aid as well, parts you cannot reach, and since moisture is insidious, a good investment would be a hearing aid dehumidifier box--which is small enough to stick in your suitcase when traveling. This might sound like an exotic piece of equipment, but most audiologist will be able to provide one, and they can also be found in local pharmacies.

Hearing Aid Sweat Band can help when mowing the lawn or exercising outdoors. This product helps to absorb moisture--just like a traditional one used for head or wrists. Investing in a hearing aid sweatband can help keep moisture from your non-water resistant hearing aid, but if you want to take precautions with your water resistant hearing aids it can also be of use.

If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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