If you have hearing loss and wear hearing aids (or maybe you’re looking at purchasing a new or first pair), this story is for you. There have been numerous cases of hearing loss being more challenging due to Covid-19 and the wearing of face masks. Here is some background information that explains these challenges along with some suggestions and words of encouragement.
Let’s begin with a quick overview about the importance of how non-verbal cues influence meaning and context of simple conversation. Whether you have hearing loss or excellent hearing, we depend on non-verbal cues such as body language, hand gestures, facial expressions, vocal presence, and lip reading to provide context when speaking with someone. It’s been estimated that half of all communication is non-verbal, so the effects of face masks interfering with normal conversation are very real.
Additionally, we all have experienced the effect masks have on speech clarity and loudness. To put it simply, masks make voices sound muffled. Not only does the face mask reduce the loudness of someone talking, but more critically the mask muffles the consonants which play the biggest role helping us distinguish words from one another. Words that are similar sounding, such as “house”, “mouth”, and “shout” may all sound the same because the beginning and ending sounds will be “masked” (pun intended).
If you’ve ever paid attention to hearing aid styles, the most common non-Eargo type is the one that fits behind-the-ear (BTE). While this style may work adequately for some, active people who exercise or wear hats or glasses have frequently found them to be intrusive and clumsy. Currently, the most common problem we’re hearing about is how much this BTE style is interfering with masks. Eargo’s team of hearing professionals are from people every day who have lost their BTE hearing aids after removing their facemasks and are now looking for alternatives that fit inside the ear canal to avoid these mishaps in the future.
Wearing a mask is good, but losing a $3,000 BTE hearing aid is not good.
So what can a person do if they have hearing loss and are trying to navigate masks and Covid?
Here are some helpful tips for people with hearing loss whether they use hearing aids or not.
During Covid-19, conversation has never been more important, and challenging. Staying in touch with family, friends, and co-workers is critical for our mental health and well-being. Making certain critical health, financial, and other personal information is correctly understood is also a priority during these unpredictable times. Please know that Eargo has your back and we encourage you to take control of your hearing with our team of experts so communication is one less thing to worry you.