Do you have a lot of problems with your hearing aids?
Are you constantly needing them repaired?
Do they work one day and not the other?
The main culprit for most hearing aid problems is moisture!
Hearing aids are very small electronics, and electronics and moisture do not mingle well together. Moisture in hearing aids can cause corrosion, condensation, and electrical shortages.
Some common signs of moisture problems in hearing aids include:
- Sound cuts in and out
- Sound fades
- Static or distorted sound quality
- Crackling sound
- Works intermittently
Many attempts to help with moisture control have been used over the years, including the use of dri-aid dehumidifiers and protective sleeves worn over the hearing aids. While these accessories can still be helpful, there has been a big push for hearing aids that are more “water-resistant”.
Water-resistant versus Waterproof
Water-resistant is not the same as waterproof. If something is water-resistant it can tolerate exposure to rain, snow, humidity, and perspiration. If something is waterproof it means it can be submerged in water.
Hearing aids are tested and rated on a scale, indicating just how tolerant they are to moisture. This is called the International Protection, or IP ratings. IPX ratings are used to classify hearing aids and water exposure. The IPX rating scale for water goes from an “IPX0” to an “IPX8”. An IPX7 or IPX8 is required for it to be classified as “waterproof”.
In an attempt to get a higher IPX rating, hearing aid manufacturers started developing certain nanocoatings to cover the hearing aid components. This led to higher IPX ratings and more hearing aids being labeled as “water-resistant”.
When it comes to waterproofing a hearing aid, it can be a difficult task, since sound must enter the hearing aid somewhere. One manufacturer, Siemens, was the first to achieve an IPX rating of IPX7 and was able to label their Aquaris hearing aid “waterproof”.
For children or adults who live near or are around water often, the moisture tolerance of the hearing aid may be a big factor. One of the biggest threats to hearing aid performance is moisture, so hearing aid manufacturers are constantly working to improve their hearing aids' water ratings.
Many have achieved the rating of “water-resistant” and it is only a matter of time before more become “waterproof”. Until then, if you are someone who is at risk of moisture exposure or live in a humid climate, be sure to find out a hearing aid's water rating before making a new purchase.