What exactly are waterproof hearing aids

Are hearing aids waterproof or not? Waterproof hearing aid?

Are your hearing aids waterproof? Who is still looking through there? One hearing aid has protection class 58, another is class 68.

What do the IP classes mean in terms of waterproof hearing aids?

This article explains it in great detail.

Table of Contents

Table of IP protection classes

I once put together a table with the digits of the IP protection classes from various sources.
First, look at the two columns and the respective digits:

Protection classes: Is my hearing aid waterproof?

How is the IP rating table for waterproof hearing aids read?

Perhaps you saw the light just by looking at the table above.
The protection classes are not consecutively numbered, but protection class 58, for example, is made up of the digits 5 and 8. The first digit, here 5, look up in the left column of the table and the second digit, in our case 8, look up in the right column.

The left column shows the value of the contact protection and how well the device is protected against the ingress of e.g. dust. The number 5 here means: Complete protection against accidental contact, protection against internal dust deposits.
The right column shows the code number for water protection. The number 8 here means: Protected from inflowing water when immersed for an indefinite period of time.

Waterproof hearing aid? Examples: This is how different devices are protected

The new iPhones 8 and X, for example, have protection class IP 67.
That is really enormous.
The first number 6 means that iPhone 8 and X are completely protected against dust and dirt. The second digit 7 indicates that these iPhone models can be completely submerged in water, but only to a depth of 1 meter and only for a maximum period of 30 minutes.

The necessary openings for charging cables, control buttons, microphones and loudspeakers make an even higher protection class difficult to achieve.

What IP classes do hearing aids have?

Hearing aids achieve similar, if not better, protection class ratings as the best iPhones.
Widex currently specifies protection class 58 for its premium hearing aid. (See the exploded view of waterproof hearing aids at the top of the post.)
Unitron has protection classes for its Moxi hearing aids, which we reproduce in the quote below.

This means the following for IP protection class 68:

Complete protection against accidental contact, protection against ingress of dust and protection against penetrating water when immersed for an indefinite period of time.
In other words: The Unitron devices mentioned are theoretically and probably also practically waterproof.
The Widex device is hardly inferior to this, but here, as with the iPhone, prolonged immersion in water is not possible.

In everyday life, this means that your IP 68 protected hearing aid does not mind if you come into a rain shower with it. The device should also survive accidentally wearing it in the shower or bathtub. And even if the hearing aid were to fall into a bucket of water, a garden pond or the tub, it would have to survive.

For a long time, the Aquarius from Siemens was the only hearing aid that had IP 68 certification. In the meantime, other manufacturers have followed suit and we can expect that protection classes IP57, IP67 and IP68 will soon be the general standard.

IP 68, the highest class - hearing aid waterproof

But even if the IP class 68 is the highest of the currently achievable classes, that does not mean that the hearing aids can be safely used for swimming or diving.

Unitron writes, for example:

Are hearing aids waterproof? Dust and water? Our hearing systems withstand these influences

Unitron hearing systems have achieved IP ratings for waterproof hearing aids

The IP test is carried out according to the standard protocol by an independent company to ensure that a hearing system is insensitive to the ingress of dust and water. All of our Tempus platform BTEs and RICs have been subjected to this rigorous test and have passed it. The following applies to devices of the Moxi series:

  • Now, Fit, Fit R, Dura, All: IP68
  • Kiss: IP57

These ratings give you the assurance that your Unitron hearing systems will continue to perform as expected even under extreme conditions. The IP 68 rating is the highest possible rating against the ingress of water, but does not mean that the hearing aid is waterproof. Hearing systems should never be worn while showering or swimming. The IP rating, on the other hand, says that hearing aids will not damage the hearing systems if they accidentally fall into the drain, are exposed to rain or briefly take a shower. However, the hearing systems must be dried carefully afterwards.

Source: http://unitron.com/content/unitron/at/de/professional/hearing-solutions/moxi/ip-ratings.html

Hearing aids waterproof or not?

Clear answer YES and NO. I would put it this way: the devices can withstand more than expected. But the manufacturers clearly state that protection applies more to special cases.
If you accidentally expose your hearing aids to water or if you get out in the rain, not much should happen.
Swimming and diving are not really possible. Here only Siemens with the Aquarius leaned a little further out of the window. With a suitable earpiece, swimming should also be possible here. Phonak also offers special ear pieces with which swimming should be possible.

Conclusion: are hearing aids waterproof?

Our hearing aids with protection classes 57 to 68 already offer excellent protection. Accidental or occasional contact with water, dust, sand and sweat cannot harm them.
Long immersion remains a taboo. Thorough drying is always the subsequent process. Hearing aids, such as the waterproof Aquaris hearing aid from Siemens / Signia, are an exception. This manufacturer advertises absolute water resistance. See video:

In conclusion, it must be said that hearing aids are very valuable devices that should not be overused. With a very expensive watch, you wouldn't try diving or swimming, for example, unless you really had to.

Images of "Are hearing aids waterproof":

Exploded view: © Widex hearing aids, Figure 2: © Siemens

Left:

Phonak Audeo B-Direct This hearing aid is also an AreaMobile Bluetooth hands-free system
Networked hearing systems control hearing aids with your smartphone connect.de
Press release on Siemens / Signia Aquaris

Note


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Author: Peter Wilhelm

Peter Wilhelm is the founder of the Society for Hearing Health and Germany's most famous hearing aid expert. The publicist here writes about good hearing. The psychologist and lecturer is an editor for several magazines. He also writes the award-winning Undertaker weblog and the Tripod blog.

He was born on Halloween night and lives with his family near Heidelberg.
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