How to Hear “Past the Mask”

Like ’em or not, masks are becoming a lot more common across the country … and they can impact your ability to hear (even with hearing aids). Here are some of the things to watch out for, and how to overcome it.

Muffled speech

An obvious side effect, masks can get in the way of the speech clarity that you get back with hearing aids. There’s also a loss of volume that occurs because the sound is physically being blocked.

Loss of physical cues

Not only is it harder to understand what someone is saying, you totally lose the ability to read lips and facial expressions. We often take these two key things for granted since we’ve used them as part of normal speech understanding since we were born. 

Finding the right fit

Finding the right fit for both your mask and hearing aids together is important, and is different for everyone. Oftentimes the ear loops on masks interfere with hearing aids that sit behind the ear, which makes some wearers fear losing them. It may feel like it’s hard to wear both items at the same time. 

There are some simple strategies you can implement to ensure you’re still able to wear your hearing aids and your mask at the same time, while still hearing and communicating effectively with those around you.

  • When wearing a mask, or speaking to someone wearing a mask, speak slowly and clearly at normal volume. Be sure to also ask the person you’re speaking with to do the same.
  • Ask the person you’re speaking with to face you for better sound directionality.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat what they said if you didn’t understand them. Even people who don’t wear hearing aids have to do this in our new mask culture.
  • Don’t forgo your hearing aids when wearing a mask. Instead, try these workarounds to avoid having to hook the ear loops behind your ears:
  • If possible, try to avoid loud situations with a lot of background noise while wearing a mask and having conversations.
  • Check your manufacturer’s website or app to see if there’s a “mask setting” or program that can boost the sound on your hearing aids.

Whether you’re at the grocery store, picking up takeout, or talking with friends, using these strategies will help you have a better experience. These important steps will help you remain social, engaged and mentally healthy while masks remain the norm.

Lauri Tucker

Growing up with an aunt who’s worn hearing aids for 40 years, and a nephew who’s deaf in one ear, Lauri wanted to support and inspire others with hearing loss. She’s the senior copywriter at hear.com.

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