Hearing loss may have increased during pandemic

Published 3:43 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2022

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Life before and after COVID-19 has undoubtedly had some contrasts for everyone, and at Beltone Hearing Aid Center, a somewhat peculiar discovery has come to their attention.

As it turns out, patients have recently declared that hearing difficulties have become more evident rather than taking place because of the pandemic.

“During the pandemic, a lot of times it was people coming in and out thinking that hearing loss had just started within the last month or two months; however long masks were being worn”, said Matt Blake, hearing care practitioner at the center’s location on Bypass Road. “You come to find out they have the most typical kind of loss.”

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Not a rare occurrence, individuals often unconsciously read the lips of others.

Throughout COVID-19, as individuals had to wear masks, the freedom to do so was not present.

Because separate masks offer different decibel-level effects, the impact was felt differently whether an individual wore the more commonly preferred N95 mask or a standard surgical mask.

“[The N95] is much thicker, especially [for] the demographic of people that we see that were more at risk during the pandemic”, Blake said. “The medical gray [or] blue surgical mask…didn’t have as large of an effect that an N95 had regarding volume changes. The pronunciation of words, all these softer sounds that we rely upon, can differentiate one from the other. They weren’t as clear with these masks on.”

Reportedly, lip reading can be responsible for up to 30% of speech understanding.

Beltone Hearing Aid Center provides clients with thorough testing in the form of free evaluations, and has been dispensing hearing aids for over 30 years. As a result, though the discovery may be surprising, the response of how to handle such an issue was not.

According to Blake, individuals suffering from hearing loss often will not notice the issue as soon as they might other difficulties.

“It’s not like our vision. If you have trouble with your vision, things are typically blurry, near-sighted or far-sighted. You know that you have trouble seeing because you have [a] visual stimuli”, Blake said. “With your hearing, it doesn’t always start out [that way].”

Though there is speculation, it doesn’t seem that other post-COVID effects have presently been confirmed.

Nevertheless, only time will tell if the future confirms otherwise.