Masks are vitally important for keeping people safe from the coronavirus. But people with hearing loss have reported unexpected complications and frustrations. We don’t want anyone putting themselves at unnecessary risk, so let’s talk about how those with hearing loss and their loved ones can wear masks and still communicate.
Wearing a Mask and Hearing Aids
Many masks have elastic loops that wrap around the ears, which, of course, is where hearing aids sit. Wearing both can cause notable discomfort. If you do wear hearing aids, wear a mask that ties around the back of your head. If you only have masks with loops, wear a mask extender. The loops will hook behind your head, not around your ears, and will be far more comfortable.
Masks muffle people’s voices, which can make hearing difficult even for people without hearing loss. If you do have a loved one who has trouble hearing, make sure to speaking slowly, clearly, and at a normal volume. Don’t speak over other people, get the person’s attention, face the person you’re speaking to, and repeat or re-word phrases when requested.
Eliminate Background Noises
Extra sound can make hearing voices difficult under the best of circumstances. Masks make it even more challenging. Turn off the TV and your podcasts before beginning a conversation with someone with hearing loss.
Seeing Mouths Through Masks
Many people with hearing loss read lips to assist in their understanding of what people are saying. But masks, obviously, cover people’s mouths. Fortunately, translucent masks were developed so the loved ones of people with hearing loss can wear their COVID-19 protection and still help the hard of hearing to understand them. Some physicians also wear transparent face masks, which protect them and their patients while still allowing for a complete view of their face.
Get Your Hearing Tested
If you’re having difficulty hearing, especially now that people are wearing masks, it could be time for a hearing test.
“I have seen many patients who have discovered they rely on lip-reading to help understand what people are saying, due to the need for masks when in public,” CEENTA Audiologist Heather Morrison, AuD, said. “You are not alone if you are struggling to understand speech more in the recent months with the changes in our lifestyles. A hearing test and follow-up treatment could be very beneficial.”
If a test determines you need hearing aids, our audiologists can fit you with ones that best suit your lifestyle and help you hear people as best you can, masks or no masks.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. Would you like an appointment with Dr. Morrison? Call 704-295-3000. You can also request an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.