How Masks Are Affecting Your Hearing
Depending on the type of mask you are wearing sound can be reduced from 3-12 dB in the main speech pitches that give clarity. For a simple disposable mask, sound is being reduced about 3-4dB while the N95 masks can reduce sound up to 12dB.
Now a day’s masks are a part of your normal everyday social experience and it is affecting those with hearing loss. Depending on the type of mask you are wearing sound can be reduced from 3-12 dB in the main speech pitches that give clarity. For a simple disposable mask, sound is being reduced about 3-4dB while the N95 masks can reduce sound up to 12dB.
A 12dB reduction in sound can make a person with normal hearing have a mild hearing loss and someone with a moderate hearing loss have a moderately- severe hearing loss. This can be a drastic change for someone even with wearing hearing aids.
On top of that you are getting rid of the ability to read lips. It is natural for everyone to read lips without thinking about it but for those with hearing loss it is more essential for them so they can fill in the blanks to what they did and did not hear.
So what can we do to help you in this new journey of wearing face masks?
Make an appointment to see your audiologist if you are having trouble hearing to make programming changes to your hearing aid and possibly add a “Mask” program.
Consider making a tele-audiology appointment: if you are unable to come into the office during this time consider making a virtual appointment with your audiologist.
Widex Hearing Aids: While the Widex application does not have an instant button to help, there are still things you can modify:
- Go into your Universal program
- Click on “Sound menu
- Adjust the equalizer TREBLE portion up 6dB and save as a new program.
If more gain is needed you can give an addition overall volume control adjustment INCREASE x2 clicks.
Signia Hearing Aids: If you have a Signia Experience hearing aid you can access a feature called “Mask Mode” in the smart phone application that can boost the speech frequencies that they mask is reducing.
Resound Hearing Aids: If you have a Resound hearing aid you can hit the button called speech clarity to help with any clarity needed.
Try the below communication techniques:
- Speak slowly
- Reduce noise
- Get the attention of the person who has the hearing loss before talking
- Make sure the hearing aids are being worn by the individual
- Rephrase remarks if not understood
- Do not speak to the individual while walking
If you have further questions regarding masks or any hearing related issue, feel free to call our Audiologic Services offices at 630-858-3277.
Goldin A, Weinstein BE, Shiman N. How do medical masks degrade speech perception? Hearing Review. 2020;27(5):8-9.
Branda, E. (2020). Improving communication with face masks – 01 Signia Library. Retrieved July 27, 2020, from https://www.signia-library.com/scientific_marketing/improving-communication-with-face-masks/