Navigating Hearing Loss With a Face Mask

Masks and hearing loss were destined for bad blood.  Don’t despair, we have just the thing to get them on good terms again!

Masks are not going anywhere

Face masks are a good tool in preventing the spread of Covid-19 and are here to stay until a vaccine becomes available.  It would be reasonable to then, use tools and strategies to make life easier.  Face masks are the worst thing to happen to hearing aid wearers for so many reasons.  

 

Goodbye Lips!

It is impossible to read lips with the main character missing from the movie.  Even face masks a with transparent windows comes with it’s own limitations.  The window often fogs up and glare can not be avoided.  

 

Say what?

Imagine how difficult it is when people talk while they are eating or cover their mouths with their hands from time to time during conversations.  Now, their speech is continuously stifled with a face mask.

 

Oops!

This week alone, I’ve had three patients who have lost at least one hearing aid whilst removing their face mask.  So, just be aware of that.

 

…and?

Okay okay, I promised you solutions, and all you’ve read so far are the problems faced by hearing aid wearers.  With lip reading out of the picture, we need a new way to aid communication.  

 

  • Do not remove your mask until you get home or into your car
    • In most occasions you will be using your masks in public areas like the shops or visits to your healthcare professional.  While it may be tempting to remove you mask as you are about to get into your car…wait!  Either wait until you get home to carefully remove your mask or if you absolutely have to, make sure you are seated in the car with your door closed.  
    • It’s very easy for your hearing aids slip out of your ears as your release the elastic from behind your ears. 
  • Google Live Transcribe
    • The clever developers at Google have created an app that turns speech into text.  It’s basically closed-captioning for real life conversations.  
    • It’s a free download available for Android on the Google Play store.
    • For iPhone users, you can use Transcribe available from the iStore
  • Seek the Pen
    • Go old school and keep a mini notepad and pen with you.  Your conversation partner can write those certain pesky words that are hard to discriminate.  “Did you say wine or lime?”  That one is a no-brainer, it was definitely lime!
  • Call a Friend
    • For particularly important visits, enlist the help of a family member or friend.   They can assist with clarification and resolve any breakdowns in communication. 

 

So with all the things you’ve read so far, I’m pretty sure masks and hearing loss will get along just fine… albeit a few spats here and there.