Waterproof?

With the technology we have today and the cost of good hearing aids I would have to
believe that they could be made TOTALLY WATERPROOF. I am mystified by the fact they all say to use dryers and keep moisture off them. Some wearers say you should never even work up a good sweat with them on. Why is it they are not waterproof?

There WAS a completely waterproof hearing aid that is no longer available. Made in Japan the Rionet HB54. An analog power BTE aid that is waterproof to 1-2 feet of water. I have one and would love to get more. I use the one I have as a spare for extreme moisture situations…

See this in Audiology Today: http://www.audiologyonline.com/News/news_detail.asp?news_id=2

You might be interested in this: http://www.audiologyonline.com/News/news_detail.asp?news_id=2

Err … that’s an ELEVEN year old article …

Try here - they may still be trading: http://www.hearingaidswholesale.com/rion.asp

How embarrassing for me! I didn’t read the article. I’ll try to be more careful in the future.

It may seem like a basic question, but it entails a bit more than you would think if you examine it.

Hearing aids detect sound - this basically means that they must be sensitive to minute changes in air-pressure: it’s not impossible to hermetically seal a microphone, but try doing it and preserving the actual response of the instrument.

Hearing aids produce sound through a conventional balanced armature speaker coil, driving a diaphragm. Easy to seal-off you could argue - except for the fact that nearly all speakers have a by-pass to the rear of the diaphragm (into the gubbins) called a thuras tube: this allows the speaker to operate more freely and generate more power at lower frequencies.

The owner of the company that started all this off, actually learned his stuff designing acoustically targeted torpedoes - if that company still hasn’t mastered it, you might need to wait for a breakthrough in low voltage micro-panel excitation technology to give you what you need.

Just as an aside, you might also want to work out how you’re going to provide the ‘Oxide’ part of the battery calculation too.

Please don’t think I’m negative on this - there’s some outstanding steps been taken on the Rion Platform, Starkey using the sub-micron coatings and aids like the Naida (Gore-tex and rubber): but unlike the Casio corporation, you won’t find many manufacturers advertising the immersion depths of their product.

You will find many moisture resistant options in today’s hearing aids. It’s near impossible to find one that is truely waterproof as most batteries require an exchange of oxygen to activate. This means that moisture will enter the battery compartment and the hearing aid should be dried at night.

There is a totally implantable hearing aid in clinical trials in the US (you can already purchase it in Europe) but obviously it’s not quite the same thing as a ‘normal’ hearing aid that is waterproof, it’s a huge expense and an operation. But if they can put a microphone underneath your skin and have any kind of success with it you’d like to think they can waterproof one. Although it would be nice if top-end aids could be waterproofed, for many people it wouldn’t need to be about having a fantastic all-singing all-dancing hearing aid with the best modern stuff on it, just a device of some kind that you can go swimming in. Would you want to take your best $4,000 a piece hearing aid water-skiing or would you prefer a grey import eBay job to take your chances with?

For some sense of added water resistance you can buy covers for hearing aids called Superseals, but they also cover up program switches and volume controls so you need to either have a remote or be able to do without those functions. They are far from actually being waterproof seals, but they help with things like working out in your aids or living in a humid climate.