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Sports are one of the best ways to improve and maintain your physical and mental wellbeing. Besides providing needed exercise, playing sports provides a social outlet. However, if you have hearing loss, the decision to wear your hearing aids while playing or take them out may leave you stuck with indecision. You may fear they will be damaged or you may be embarrassed to wear them.

Being aware of potential damage to your hearing aids is important. However, you are still better off leaving them in during sports. Leaving your hearing aids in increases your awareness and performance. As for damage concerns, there are many ways you can protect your hearing aids. 

Think of Your Hearing Aids as Sports Equipment

Helmets, cleats, skis, knee pads, hockey sticks, uniforms, hearing aids. Your hearing aids are part of your normal sports equipment. They enable you to hear important sounds – your coach, another teammate calling to you, and other sounds that can protect you as well as enhance your athletic performance, like spatial awareness and balance. 

Some players may be embarrassed about wearing hearing aids during sports, in particular younger sports participants. Remember that you would wear a supportive knee brace or glasses to see or shoe inserts for support if needed. Hearing aids are just another aspect of assisting you where you need it. 

For younger players, parents can help them by empathetically addressing their child’s concerns. Assure them that everyone is focused on playing, not on the braces, athletic taping or hearing aids others are wearing. Find examples of professional players or other teammates who have assistive or support devices. Give them prepared responses they can use if someone asks them questions. For example, if someone asks why they are wearing them during a game, your child could say, “They help my performance because I can hear better and focus on the game, help my teammates, and also avoid injuries because I didn’t hear something. They’re really cool. I can even use them with my phone or tv.” 

Also, many behind-the-ear hearing aid models are so discreet, they are unlikely to be noticed at all. Your hearing specialist can help you pick the best model for your lifestyle, so let them know you are involved in sports and need hearing aids that support that kind of activity.

Shopping for Hearing Aids For Sports

  • Look for the best water-resistant types. No hearing aid is waterproof (so no swimming with your hearing aids in), but you definitely want the most water-resistance to protect against sweat and humidity.
  • The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)  tests hearing aids to determine their resistance to elements like sweat, water and dust, then assigns a two-digit Ingress Protection (or IP) rating. The IP rating designates the device’s ability to resist the elements. To find your IP rating, you can search on Google for your hearing aid model or ask your audiologist. You’ll want hearing aids rated IP67 or higher, which indicates complete protection against dust and high resistance to sweat.
  • Choose hearing aids with rechargeable batteries and keep them charged. This way you won’t have to worry about your batteries dying in the middle of practice or a game.
  • Don’t touch or remove your hearing aids during sports, as they could fall and be damaged. Instead, look for hearing aids that connect to apps on your smartphone. That way you can adjust your hearing aids as needed during a break and they never have to be touched.
  • Depending on the sport you play, you may want hearing aids with wind suppression technology. Biking, track, cycling and other outside sports are good examples where wind suppression would be extremely helpful.
  • Look for hearing aids that are compatible with accessories used to keep them in place and undamaged during heavy physical activity. Such accessories include bands and clips. These may be especially useful with younger sports players who may become irritated with their hearing aids and remove them in the middle of a game, exposing them to damage.

Tips for Hearing Aid Care and Protection For Athletes

Although hearing aids can improve your performance and help you avoid injuries, how can you keep them protected during the game? The main concerns for your hearing aids will be damage from moisture or from the device being dislodged from your ear and getting broken or lost.

  • Remove your hearing aid if you are participating in a water sport, such as swimming, sailing, rowing, etc.  Most hearing aids today are water-resistant to a degree, such as protection from sweat. This is not the same as waterproof. You cannot submerge your device in water or subject it to heavy rain.
  • Prepare for weather conditions if you will be playing outdoors, such as heavy rain and humidity. Wear suitable protection from the elements.
  • You can protect your hearing aid from sweat with a fabric cover accessory for your device. The cover wicks sweat away and prevents moisture from damaging your hearing aid. Simple solutions such as a sweatband or sweat headband are also helpful to absorb sweat and also help keep your device in place.
  • Put your hearing aids in a dry box or dehumidifier at night to keep them in proper working order. Look for a box or dehumidifier that also sanitizes your device to prevent bacteria from growing and damaging your hearing aids. 
  • Use a hearing aid cleaning kit as necessary to remove any debris from the tubes.
  • Hearing aid headbands or clips keep your device securely in place while playing. These are available from several manufacturers and possibly your audiologist. 
  • the fit of any helmet or hat needs to allow for your hearing aid.

Hearing is a crucial element to playing many sports. The choice of the right hearing-assistive device that supports an active lifestyle is important to keep you playing and living at your best. Sonora Hearing Care can help you find the right devices for your active lifestyle. Contact us to speak with a hearing specialist or make an appointment with one of our audiologists.