Even Maizie wears a Facemask!
Masks Make it Hard to Understand Speech
During the pandemic, we are told to wear face masks when we are in public and unable to social distance. It is for our protection as well as the safety of others. It is important to do it, but it makes communication very difficult for people with hearing loss for a number of reasons.
The mask physically blocks the sound.
According to a fascinating study highlighted in Hearing Review, medical masks act as a low-pass acoustic filter for speech, weakening the high frequencies spoken by the wearer by up to 12 dB depending on the type of mask. The study concludes, “The speech quality degradation, in combination with room noise/reverberation and the absence of visual cues, renders speech close to unintelligible for many patients with hearing loss.”
Lipreading cues are absent.
Like many people with hearing loss, I am usually speechreading while I listen. The lipreading cues help me better understand speech, while the facial expressions help me to find the emotion behind the words. With a mask, neither of these clues are available making it more taxing to organize the sounds into a meaningful word or phrase. This can lead to hearing loss exhaustion from the increased listening effort.
The 6-feet apart rule compounds the issue.
Along with wearing masks, people have been asked to physically distance from one another by staying home as much as possible and by maintaining a six foot distance from others when in public spaces. This rules helps reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus from one person to another, but it also makes it more difficult to hear since most hearing devices work best when they are within six feet of the source of the sound.
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We are here to help if you or a family member is having any difficulties with Tinnitus, hearing or hearing aids, please give us a call at 727-323-2471 and set up an appointment. We can help you.
Susan E. Terry, Au.D., F-AAA, F-NAP
Doctor of Audiology
P.S. We are here to help if you have any questions about your hearing, feel free to give us a call at 727-323-2471