Hearing aids and sports - a How To Guide

We all know we should be getting more exercise, regardless of our age; but more often than not, we find myriad reasons not put our health first. Don’t let your hearing aids become yet another excuse not to stay in shape. And don't let you physical fitness hold you back from dealing with your hearing loss. With proper care and maintenance, your hearing aids should remain in tiptop shape whether you like to jog around town, bike through the park, or spend a day on the golf course.

Keeping your hearing aids dry during exercise.

The biggest challenge facing hearing aids during exercise is the buildup of moisture/sweat and grime that can harm delicate internal circuitry. Some of the best hearing aids sold today are what's called IP68 certified. This means that they can be can be "immersed in 1.5 meters of freshwater for up to 30 minutes". They are not waterproof, but they are very water resistant. 

In addition, if you might want to consider rechargeable hearing aids for two reasons: 1) They are completely sealed units (like your cell phone) so they are better protected and 2) The charging unit also functions as a drying box helping to dry and sanitize your hearing aids overnight. At Embrace Hearing, our X-Series rechargeables work this way. 

So while you clearly shouldn't deliberately take your hearing aids for a dip in the pool, with some basic steps they can accompany you on a ride, run or onto the court or golf course.

The biggest source of moisture while exercising isn’t surprising: it’s sweat and the build up of grime—and it can harm your hearing aids if you don’t take some simple precautions.

Researchers, including Ronald Schow at the University of Idaho, found that Behind-The-Ear (BTE) hearing aids are vulnerable when “beads of perspiration form in the hair along the top of the hearing aid” and gradually seep inside an improperly sealed hearing aid.

Therefore, keeping sweat from reaching the circuitry of the BTE hearing aid is the most important step in keeping your devices working problem-free even as you exercise.

Luckily, there are some cost-effective solutions to prevent sweat from penetrating the aid.

  1. First, if you are purchasing hearing aids, be sure to check on the IP rating. Look for IP68 to ensure the best possible seal.

  2. Consider purchasing protective sleeves for your aids. These not only help with keeping sweat away from your aids but also, in the event your aid falls off during sport, makes it easy to find. Among the most popular are special sweat-resistant pouches made just for your hearing aids. One such option is Ear Gear, which slips over your hearing aid and prevents moisture from entering into the electronics.

  3. Another solution is to wear a headband or sweatband while exercising, to help keep sweat from reaching your hearing aids in the first place.

Protecting your hearing aids during exercise.

Though moisture is the biggest threat to hearing aids, it’s worth remembering that even the best-fitted aids can come loose during a rough-and-tumble session on the basketball court or the football field and can risk being damaged.

To help avoid accidentally knocking your hearing aids loose, you can use a product such as Ear Gear, which attach to your hearing aids and then clips onto your clothes. They are also available in many bright colors.

Clothes, too, make a difference in the protection of your hearing aids. Sara Batinovich, who wrote a book on managing hearing loss, recommends investing in zip-front sweatshirts rather than hooded varieties, which can disturb your hearing aid placement. She also reminds that bike helmets and even baseball hats need to be carefully sized to avoid interfering with a comfortable hearing aid fit.

Caring for your hearing aids after exercise.

Once your workout is complete, it’s a good idea to take a few rudimentary steps to ensure that your hearing aid is properly clean and dry and ready for your next adventure. The best place to start is a simple cleaning is always good practice after wearing your hearing aids during exercise.

One piece of equipment is especially useful in helping maintain your hearing aids after they’ve been exposed to moisture is a "Dry Box". By storing your hearing aids in one of these self-contained drying units overnight, you’re ensuring that any remaining moisture in the aid is safely removed. Many units also sanitize the aids as well, ensuring that no bacteria grows inside the aid or the tubing while it is damp.

As with any piece of technology, if you invest time in maintaining your hearing aids after you use them, you’ll extend their lifetime and help identify potential issues much faster.

While exercise with your hearing aids requires some planning, hearing aids can be safely worn during your favorite (non-aquatic) sport. In fact, being able to properly hear can be a huge asset for your own safety—and it might even improve your performance on the golf course, too.

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