Health risks aside, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an entirely separate challenge for people suffering from hearing loss. Communication was all of a sudden harder, because with everyone wearing masks everywhere, it was no longer possible to read people’s lips as an aid to deciphering what they were saying. Even for those fully capable of using American Sign Language, facial expressions are a key part of communicating, and with face masks obscure over half of the person’s entire face, it can be a real challenge to understand what someone is saying.
If you find yourself having to regularly communicate with someone with hearing loss, you may want to invest in face masks known as “communicator” ones. Made from a few different manufacturers, these have a clear window over the mouth so the person can see your lips but you are still getting the protection of a mask. Our Doctors of Audiology use these masks here at the Chicago Hearing Services office, so if you need to locate some, please get in touch with us.
Another concern for those with hearing impairment is related to the wearing of face masks while also wearing hearing aids. Some hearing aids are unobtrusive enough that they don’t get in the way, but others, especially Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids and cochlear implants (CIs) can get in the way of the ear straps that typically hold these masks in place. The hearing aids can get bumped and shift when one tries to adjust or take off his or her mask. A worst case scenario would probably be that the hearing aids fly off and either break or get lost.
If you do find that face masks are regularly interfering with your hearing aids, there are a number of creative solutions for attaching the face masks in a different way.
Some ideas are to:
- Sew your own or purchase a face mask that uses ties behind the head instead of elastic bands behind the ears.
- Use one of these creative types of extenders. They go behind your head and allow face masks to attach without going behind your ears.
- Sew a hair band that goes around your head and has two attachment points for the traditional elastic band face masks.
- If you need to hack something on the go, if you have long hair, you can make a bun on the back of your head and attach the mask straps to that. Or you can use something improvised like a paper clip to attach the two elastic bands behind your head.
If you find that the COVID-19 pandemic is interfering with your hearing health, we are here to help! Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment!