How About A Sport Hearing Aid?

I love thinking about new features for hearing aids. OK – I guess that makes me a little bit weird, but when something is such an important life line to communication, it is probably worth thinking about from time to time. A few months ago I wrote a blog post detailing some ideas I had for improving today’s hearing aids. You can read that post here.

Many readers had great suggestions to add to the list, including hearing aids you can wear at night and making hearing aids trackable by GPS (like Find My iPhone) to protect against loss. One suggestion that particularly resonated with me was the idea of a sport hearing aid. They make sport watches, sport glasses, sport radios, and several cochlear implants can now be worn in the water with an accessory, so why is there not a sport hearing aid?

Perhaps it is the misconception that hearing loss is something that only happens to the old. This is not the case. In fact, according to the Better Hearing Institute, 65% of people with hearing loss are below age 65. This is quite an active group, particularly in today’s health-conscious world, and one that I believe would embrace the idea of a hearing aid that could be worn to the gym, or on the tennis court, or while enjoying water sports.

I know I sometimes have trouble with my hearing aids during my hot yoga class when sweat drips into my ears. Before I started wearing Lyric hearing aids (they are water-resistant), I could not wear my hearing aids to class, otherwise they would short out, but without my hearing aids, it was hard to hear what the teacher was saying, making the class almost impossible to enjoy. A catch 22.

My 10-year-old son wears glasses, as do many of his friends, so when he plays sports, he wears his sport glasses. They are made from particularly flexible plastic, come with a strap so that the glasses won’t be knocked loose during play, and have a wider lens than is typical to help with peripheral vision.

Now, I realize that hearing aids are much more complicated than glasses given the electronic components, but the same concepts could apply — more rugged / flexible casing, straps to keep the hearing aids in place, and some way to keep water, sweat and dirt out. Features to help with wind noise would also be a plus.

Readers, would you wear a sport hearing aid?

This post first appeared on Open Ears. 

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31 thoughts on “How About A Sport Hearing Aid?

  1. Yes, actually the sense of hearing is the MOST complicated of the 5 senses. “The problems of deafness are deeper and more complex, if not more important, than those of blindness.” (Helen Keller) You are not even a little bit wierd. Your comments are right with what’s happening now! I have answers to your hearing aids that are capable of being found with your iphone. I wear them! also, I have answers to your Sports hearing aids – they exists WATERPROOF AND DUST PROOF. e-mail me for more info. Make an appointment for a comprehensive exam. Best wishes, RPT

    • Yes, but are those waterproof and dust proof hearing aids more rugged? My son wears his hearing aids for everything he does except soccer (it is the only sport he plays). I am concerned that the will be damaged by an elbow to the ear, or will fall out and force him to make the choice to continue playing or grab his hearing aids before they are trampled.

  2. A low-tech solution is to buy the little rubber hearing-aid covers that protect them from sweat (but probably not fully waterproof). There are also sweat covers in decorative patterns. I have them in camo. I use a hand-me-down aid from my father (who now has a CI) for kayaking. It’s old, but powerful, and I don’t have to stress out about tumping the kayak.

  3. A sport hearing aid is a fantastic idea. I am a kayaker and was once kayaking without hearing aids and nearly run over by a big yacht that I didn’t hear coming up behind me. My partner paddled up and banged on my boat with her paddle to get my attention! I have read about a water resistant hearing aid and as usual, they are expensive. Therefore kayaking is one of those activities I choose to let go, sadly. You do what you can do and then move on.

    • That reminds me of the one and only time I flipped my kayak….right at the dock, getting in. It went over so fast, I didn’t know what was happening until I was under water, with my hands over my ears (and aids), in a panic. Good luck…the aids weren’t damaged. That’s when I started using the hand-me-downs.
      It’s also a concern when I’m hiking in the woods, on trails that cyclists also use. As they approach me from behind, they (well-meaningly) yell “On your left!” and then assume you heard them. Not. I’m thinking of getting a t-shirt or outer vest that says “DEAF” on it. Just to give them a head’s up. And me a better chance of not getting hit.

  4. I never even realized that waterproof hearing-aids exist. After 40 years of severe hearing loss, I’ve never had an audiologist even mention them. Although I have used the inadequate rubber-sheath assessories. Some while ago, I gave up trying to take yoga for the reasons you mention: hearing is a must. A universal hearing aid that has all attributes would be a god-send for those of us who can barely afford the 6k for a quality set–let alone multiple pairs for multiple purposes.

  5. My 9 year old son is deaf in one ear, has partial hearing loss in the other and wears hearing aids in both ears. He is in martial arts and comes out of class soaking in sweat and of course, wet hearing aids. Would love to see sport hearing aids/waterproof hearing aids for him. He loves to swim and enjoys water sports – so the hearing aids come out for those activities.

  6. Great ideas and post. I can totally relate to the frustration in the yoga class. I have been practicing for almost 10 years and have been trying to convince my friends with hearing loss to join me. I too worried what the sweat was doing to my hearing aids for the first couple years. The worry and my yoga practice were counter productive. Then I decided to just not wear my hearing aids during class. My hearing loss is pretty bad so I really can’t hear anything. It was challenging at first. But then I began to really enjoy the peacefulness. It was also stressful at first when I had to always look around to see what people were doing. Or, I get upset about doing something wrong or falling behind. But then I began to realize that it really did not matter and the sense of calm came back. I have found that this practice of mindfulness, which can be difficult at times, is very similar to what we go through with hearing loss. It is up to us to accept our hearing loss as who we are. It is also up to us to determine how we react when we can’t understand people at work, social settings, etc. Just as in yoga class, we can react in frustration or smile, remain deliberately calm and react positively. But I sure would love a pair of water-proof hearing aids. 🙂 Love your writing!

  7. My sport is birding! Just got first hearing aids a month ago. My loss is bilateral, moderate up to 4khz and worse on up. Talking with my audiologist about programming especially for birding. I know we need to amp up the higher frequencies. Looking for ideas for optimizing hearing aids for birding. Using Widex Unique 440. The master program has done pretty well for birding but … seems to select for speech. Birding with chatty birders is very frustrating. I need to hear soft, distant, high frequency calls. If anyone has info or ideas, would very much appreciate it!

    • Make sure you get your omnidirectional mics turned on for the birding setting. And be aware that if you are birding close to a highway or other noise source, you’ll still have a problem hearing them. My role in any birding group is spotting, though. I am often the first person to detect movement….I think my eyes are covering for my ears.

      • My audiologist consulted with the manufacturer and collaborated with me on setting up a birding program for my hearing aids. About a week ago. Have only had opportunity to try it a couple of times due to a family crisis. Seems very promising. We left the universal program intact and established a new program based on Quiet sound class. I am most interested in using this in forest, prairie, and brushy habitats. Looking forward to warblers, grasshopper and henslow’s sparrows, waxwings. Birding by ear much improved by universal program. Wanting more! The details of new program are:

        Impulse attenuation off
        High frequency boost
        Wind attenuation on
        Omnidirectional microphone on
        Soft noise attenuation set to standard

        Will be working with audiologist on tweaking. Hearing aids have already enhanced my life greatly!

  8. The biggest problems of waterproof aids are microphones, batteries and water in the mould. There are advances in waterproof Mic technology all the time, so this is coming together. I wish we’d benefit from the same snap-off battery technology as cochlear implant processors so we could get a sealed rechargeable battery unit. There’s an Aquaris aid that’s waterproof, but my hearing just doesn’t get on with that manufacturer. So my new experiment is to doctor the Aqua Plus from the Nucleus CI processors to cover my aids. I won’t get any warranty, but it’s necessary. I might need to use rechargeable batteries to run them if they use up all the air for the air batteries. So the final hurdle, keeping water from getting under the aid and up the tubing, as one drop is enough to cut things right out – probably why implant processors are first to get the full waterproof versions first. A different mould requires a new fitting, so one program has to go with that mould, or you wear a really tight mould all the time, with all the issues that come with that.

    So, two cases, rechargeable batteries, an ear band or swim hat and big moulds…i’ll let you know!

  9. Hi I run a Goalball club and we have players who have both visual and hearing impairments.Generally they do not wear their hearing aids when playing which makes training and playing difficult the idea of sports aids seems so logical. Also for instruction Bluetooth enabled aids that allow instructions to be received directly into the aid would be really helpful does anyone have experience of these

  10. I continue to look and find which has purpose made waterproof covers for just about all types of hearing aids, definitely worth checking out

  11. Oh and for a diy solution check out Mat Gilbert a professional rugby player who plays with hearing aids

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