Because of COVID, wearing a face mask has become the norm. For people with hearing aids, however, masks present some challenges. It can be difficult to know how to protect yourself from the virus, protect your hearing aid from damage, and effectively communicate with others. Let’s look at the potential problems and some helpful solutions.
In the era of COVID-19, hearing aids sometimes are hard to wear with a mask. Behind-the-ear hearing aids might be tugged by the elastic ear loops on a standard face mask, and you could accidentally pull out your hearing aids and lose or damage them when you take off your mask. Consider these tips:
- Try masks with fabric ties, because they’re adjustable and won’t tug on your hearing aids as much.
- Use a mask holder or mask extender to relieve your ears from the stress of holding up a face mask, hearing aids, and sometimes eyeglasses.
- Consider a mask that clasps at the neck instead of the ears.
- Be careful when removing your mask so that you don’t disturb your hearing aids.
Another problem is that people often have trouble understanding each other through the masks, whether or not they normally have difficulty hearing. Masks muffle sound and prevent reliance on the facial expressions and lipreading clues that would typically help people compensate. Here are some tactics for dealing with these problems:
- Choose masks that muffle speech the least. If you’re the one who has trouble hearing, request that the people you interact with most do the same. Single-use surgical masks are best at protecting people from viral particles, but cloth masks are better acoustically. Face masks with clear plastic windows allow lip readers to see people’s mouths, but they reduce the volume of the speaker’s voice more than other masks.
- If you’re concerned about being heard, use an assistive listening system. The sound reinforcement provided by this type of amplification device can improve your ability to be heard and reduce vocal fatigue. Resist the urge to speak louder, as that can actually hurt the listener’s ears. Instead, focus on speaking more distinctly.
- If you wear hearing aids, they may have “face mask mode”. Some brands have updated their hearing aids to contain settings to cope with the face mask factor. The user can control these settings via the device’s smartphone app. If you are not sure how to adjust your hearing aids, ask your hearing care provider to adjust them to account for the speech volume and clarity lost when people wear masks.
At Elite Hearing Centers of America, we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality service, industry leading products, and a no excuses 100% satisfaction guarantee. Founded by some of the industry’s most experienced private practice owners in the United States, we offer professional, compassionate care, focused on providing high-quality hearing aids at affordable prices. Call us at 855-432-7354 or schedule a free comprehensive hearing evaluation today.