Whether we like it or not — and no one likes it — COVID-19 is going to be with us for a while. That’s become obvious over the last week.
And that means masks will continue to be a part of life. The scientific consensus is that widespread use of masks is one of the best weapons against the COVID scourge.
That presents challenges for everyone — including people who use hearing aids. Masks are, as it were, both an input and output issue.
Making out what people who are wearing a mask are saying is more difficult, both because the sound is muffled and not seeing their mouth robs you of vital subconscious cues about what they are saying.
And a critical part of wearing a mask correctly — namely the ear loops that hold it in in place securely — can interfere with any kind of hearing aid that rests behind the ear. And if you wear glasses, welcome to the trifecta.
There are a few common solutions, but don’t be afraid to contact your hearing aid provider for advice. There may be specific tricks for different hearing aid models; the entire profession is trading tips and advice.
But in general, getting into the habit of methodically taking off a mask will cut down on the accidental pulling-out of your hearing aid. There are also mask holders — basically small loops with snaps — that take the place of your ears by pulling the ear loops back and connecting them behind your head. Any S-hooks that may be lying around the garage could be a DIY solution.
As far as hearing someone better who’s wearing a mask, let them know you have a hearing aid — they may not have noticed. And avoid noisy environments (this fits right into the social distancing mantra), since background noise makes hearing conversations more difficult even without masks.