Have you noticed an increased prevalence of hearing loss during this time of Covid-19? I sure have! This has caused me to stop and reflect on these changes. It is not necessarily that more hearing loss is being caused during this time. For the most part we are staying home and in quiet environments. We are not exposing ourselves to the harmful effects of loud concerts and sporting events. Yet, we are noticing hearing difficulty now more than ever. The following are some changes that I have noticed:
1. The masks. We are all covering our faces with masks to prevent the spread of disease. This necessary protective measure prevents lipreading and blocks many important visual cues of expression. People with hearing loss, especially untreated hearing loss, rely heavily on lipreading. A person with an age-related or noise-induced hearing loss is typically going to have a loss for high frequency sounds. When we speak, our speech sounds fall across the range from low frequency to high frequency sounds. If you have a high frequency hearing loss and only pick up some of the low frequency sounds, speech clarity will be lacking greatly for you. You will hear that someone is talking, but it will not sound sharp, crisp, or clear. It will be very difficult to understand. In the place of hearing the high frequency sounds, you will try to compensate by lipreading. Sometimes that will help a little. Most of the time you will still struggle. However, in our current circumstances, lipreading is not an option at all! With the masks, we have taken away a vital means of compensating for hearing loss. Not to mention the fact that voices are muffled when covered by the mask.
2. More time with our loved ones. The increased time with our loved ones is great for quality time together; however, it also presents the opportunity for frustrations to build when there are communication breakdowns or perhaps arguments over the volume of the TV.
3. More time virtually on the phone or video calls. Because face-to-face contact is limited due to Covid-19, we are using more virtual means of communication whether that be over the phone or on video calls. Hearing over the phone is often a difficult means of communication for people with hearing loss. This is another situation where the benefit of lipreading is taken away. Depending on the strength of the connection and signal, the audio may or may not be the best quality. If your hearing abilities are already limited, poor audio quality is only another strike against your battle to communicate effectively. Accurate communication with our friends and family is important, but even more so is the importance of being able to communicate with our doctors and healthcare providers (i.e. telehealth appointments).
If you or a loved one are struggling with your hearing and communication abilities during this time, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Professional Hearing Center. We are here to help you improve your communication abilities. This is a challenging time, but there are also a lot of new solutions available to help meet your needs while also keeping everyone safe!