The masks we wear are designed to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. But it’s also revealing, for some, that they have a hearing loss.
“If you find yourself thinking that you’re having trouble because of the mask, that means, let’s go in and get a baseline study,” said Dr. Christine Stewart, a doctor of audiology at South County Hearing Services. She explained why the masks are unmasking this problem.
“The first thing that our brain does is when we have even a little bit of hearing loss is to use our eyes and now, we’ve taken that away,” said Stewart.
Stewart said there are hidden side effects to hearing loss that goes untreated. “The obvious ones are you might say, ‘What?’ You get frustrated,” said Steward. But did you know untreated hearing loss can do permanent damage that may not be undone with hearing aids?
“There’s also increased rates of depression, anxiety, isolation, risk of falling and increased cognitive decline,” said Stewart.
For those, like Chuck Bowse (one of her patients) who already has hearing loss, he’ll tell you this: “Masks make it very challenging.” Even with the best hearing aids, there are some you wouldn’t even notice someone wearing, what he does and what he suggests is this: “Let the people know that you have the hearing loss and just ask them to slow down and speak clearly,” said Bowse.
Never shout because that might distort the hearing aids and make things worse. And you might want to rephrase what you’ve said to someone who is having trouble understanding what you’re saying. “If you don’t understand it the first time, your mind, your brain, is trying to race through possible options, what the person did say,” explained Bowse. Insurance does cover the hearing test itself. It may not cover the office visit.
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