Phonak launched the world’s first rechargeable waterproof hearing aids in August 2021. They’re called Phonak Audéo Life and are capable of being submerged in up to 50 cm or 1.64 feet of fresh water, salt water or pool water.
According to Phonak, the hearing aids allow users to get “crisp, natural sound” while enjoying summer activities.
The waterproof hearing aids are also rechargeable and also have Bluetooth technology, so users are still getting everything you need from their Phonak hearing aids.
“The hearing aids are capable of being submerged in up to 50 cm or 1.64 feet of fresh water, salt water or pool water.”
Read more: Enjoying summer with hearing loss
The biggest dangers to your hearing aids in the summer are water, sand, and sunscreen. Playing water sports with hearing aids means taking extra care. Water is just as much of a hearing aid killer, whether chlorinated swimming pool water or salty seawater. However, most hearing aids have some protection against accidental immersion and splashing. Most modern hearing aids are water-resistant but not waterproof. This means they can stand the odd splash or two. They shouldn’t need repair if you drop them in the pool (as long as you fish them out quite quickly!).
As a general rule, though, you should avoid getting your hearing aids wet, especially if they’re submerged. If they do get wet, take the batteries out. Leave them in a warm, dry place for an hour or so. Don’t leave them in the sun or directly on a radiator.
You’ll also want to avoid sand, sunscreen, and sticky ice cream or popsicles getting anywhere near your aids, as none of these things will do them any good! Like water, your hearing aids have a little bit of protection against dust and sand so that a minor accident might be all right. Don’t take this for granted. It is strongly recommend to protect your hearing aids with a good case.
Getting your hearing aids wet is now an option, but there are still limitations to enjoying water sports with hearing aids. You’ll want to be careful with impact sports, such as wake boarding, kite surfing, water skiing, or any activity where your hearing aid could be knocked into the water and sink to the bottom of the ocean.
Scuba diving is also difficult if you have hearing issues. Hearing aids won’t withstand prolonged submersion, and ven if they could, scuba diving with hearing loss can be hazardous and is often not encouraged by physicians.
Scuba diving with hearing loss means you’re more at risk of ear injuries and further (often permanent) hearing loss. Fifty percent of divers suffer from Middle Ear Barotrauma (MEBT) at some point in their lives. Divers are highly likely to injure their ears if they already have hearing loss. MEBT is the most common diving injury people get.
“Scuba diving with hearing loss means you’re more at risk of ear injuries and further (often permanent) hearing loss.”
MEBT is what happens when the pressure in the middle ear doesn’t equalize appropriately to the new underwater environment. It’ll feel like your ears are full or blocked up. Then it will start to hurt. This is caused by a build-up within the ear, which can rupture your eardrum if allowed to continue.
Another reason hearing loss and diving are a dangerous combination is the challenge of communication You’ll need to rely on your hearing to communicate via radio, with no visual references. Misunderstanding or completely missing communications could cost you, or someone else, their life. Dive communications let you keep in touch with other divers and the boat. You risk getting separated from your divemates, getting lost at sea, running out of air, or missing essential messages about dangerous creatures, obstacles, currents, tides, or even shipping traffic.
Not being able to dive was one of the worst things about getting my hearing loss diagnosis. It’s something that still bothers me. However, I’ve finally figured out my hearing loss and my hearing aids. I don’t want to do anything that jeopardizes my hearing. Nor do I want to miss those urgent messages about my oxygen levels!
I hope that in the future there will be technology or solutions that will allow me to scuba dive, whether that’s ear-pressure technology or visual radio communications for scuba divers. After all, as a hard of hearing swimmer, I’m already happy to see advancements made for waterproof hearing aids. I’m hanging on to my crazy dreams of scuba diving one day too.