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The Ugly Truth About Moisture and Hearing Aids

Moisture In Hearing Aids

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”.

IPX ratings for hearing aids

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.

Photo Credit: s_gibson72 via Compfight cc
Lindsey Banks

Lindsey Banks

Audiologist

Lindsey Banks is a graduate of the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) program at the University of Florida. She uses her diverse experience in hearing healthcare and her passion for helping people to provide credible information to those with hearing loss who visit Everyday Hearing.

Comments

  1. morgan says:

    Keep in mind sometimes being labeled “waterproof” depends on real life usage. I tried the aquaris, and these hearing aids were horrendous. They lack in air, meaning when it had air starvation issues, it would shut off, then wouldn’t turn back on. The hearing aids failed to provide enough gain in the high frequency sounds. (i.e., whistles, etc) These hearing aids seemed like a waterproof aid, however, they should be more labeled as “Water-resistant” not waterproof. These hearing aids should’ve been tested in water. However, clearly they were not. The hearing aids are unreliable, lack the proper software to be used in real world scenarios, and need serious adjustments made to them for someone who is HH to label them as “waterproof” it is unfortunate a brand could label these as waterproof, when clearly they are NOT. Save your money. Wait until something better or from another brand is made.

    1. Very true, Morgan…every person’s hearing aid usage is different and these ratings may not be sufficient for everyone. Thank you for letting us know about your experience with the Aquarius aids. Hopefully you have found a hearing aid that is a better solution for you?

  2. Donna King says:

    The best solution I’ve come across is Ear Gear. Not “waterproof” either but can certainly withstand humid conditions and a dunk in the pool. You can find them at gearforears.com

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