Summer is our time to shine! With weather that permits outdoor activities and schools on vacation, we can take advantage of the relaxing activities that we long for in the winter. Whether you like to take a boat ride, go for a picnic, or go swimming in an outdoor pool, the summer is the perfect opportunity to have some fun.
For those of us who wear hearing aids, this can also be an opportunity to make sure the batteries are fresh and to enjoy the ways they enable you to socialize. At a family reunion barbecue or on a group hike, hearing aids make it possible to not only enjoy one another but also to take in the calming effect of nature. Although these activities and events are the perfect opportunity to wear your hearing aids, they do come with some additional precautions that should be observed.
The following are general words to caution to protect the functionality of hearing aids, as well as some of the differences between hearing aids that make them suited to different activities.
Beware of Extreme Heat
Although hearing aids are made to withstand the same amount of heat the body can endure, they are sensitive to extreme heat. Some situations that can cause extreme heat include leaving them sitting in a sunny window at home or in your car while it is parked outdoors.
While you are out and about with your hearing aids inserted, you should have no problem with the temperature, but the real risk occurs when they are out of your ears. Keeping them in a shady and cool location is important to maintain the functionality of the aids, as well as to maximize the battery life.
Avoid Dust, Dirt, and Debris
Just as hearing aids are made to withstand moderate warmth, they are also made to be resilient to moderate debris. A simple wipe with a clean, dry, soft cloth should suffice to remove debris from the units, and a similar approach applies to removing earwax on the surface of the hearing aid housing. However, when it comes to more serious dirt and dust, hearing aids actually differ from one another.
The International Electrotechnical Commission has established a rating for the resistance of devices to both debris and moisture. This number is called an “IP” rating (which stands for “Ingress Protection”), and it includes two digits. The first digit denotes the resistance to debris, and the second number denotes the resistance to moisture. Debris is rated on a scale of 1-7, and moisture is rated on a scale of 1-9. Beginning with resistance to debris, you can use the first digit in the IP rating to tell how much dirt your hearing aids can withstand without damage. In the summer, sand and sunscreen sprays are particular risks when it comes to debris, so be sure to place your hearing aids in a sealed case or bag when you go to the beach—and keep them in a cool location in the shade!
Water-Resistant vs. Water-Proof
Hearing aids differ in their degrees of moisture resistance, as well. Only very few specialized hearing aids made for swimmers can be considered waterproof, but most hearing aids have a degree of water resistance.
Looking again at the IP rating, that second digit can let you know how water resistant your units are on a scale of 1-9. You can refer to manufacturer guidelines about the types of moisture exposure that relate to each number in the IP rating, but it is safe to say that most hearing aids are not meant to be submerged in water.
If that does happen accidentally, be sure to wipe your hearing aids with an absorptive, clean, dry cloth and to place your hearing aids immediately in a specially designed hearing aid dryer or at least a sealed plastic with a desiccant, such as silica, or rice.
These practices are not a bad idea for general exposure to moisture from very high humidity or getting caught in the rain. If you observe these practices for heat, debris, and water protection, you should be able to use your hearing aids in all of your favorite summer activities.
For tips on hearing aid maintenance or for professional hearing aid repairs, contact us today.