During the last few months, with social distancing becoming the norm, many of us are spending more time at home than ever before. Now, families eat, talk, and watch movies together. While this may have a positive effect on family dynamics, there can be some negative effects as well. For example, this close togetherness also makes untreated hearing loss more obvious, and potentially more frustrating.

Signs of untreated hearing loss

If you look for them, there are some obvious signs that your loved one has hearing loss. Now that you’re probably spending more time together, they might even be more apparent.

Watch for these common signs of hearing loss:

  1. The radio, television, or movies are consistently too loud.
  2. When talking to your loved one in person or over the phone, you have to repeat yourself in order to be accurately heard.
  3. They consistently miss hearing quiet sounds like a clock ticking or the microwave beeping.

If someone can’t hear these types of sounds, it’s not a huge problem. This is true because not hearing them does not pose a safety issue or affect their ability to communicate. What does matter, though, is that these sounds are in the same frequency ranges as many important speech sounds.

If you notice that a loved one is experiencing reduced hearing abilities, encourage them to get a hearing test or a thorough hearing evaluation from an audiologist as soon as possible. If the tests show that hearing loss is present, it’s important to seek and use treatment before it gets any worse.

How does wearing masks affect hearing loss?

Many Americans, along with the rest of the world, are being asked to wear masks during this time of social distancing and fighting Covid-19. Whether we know it or not, we all use some lip reading or visual cues in order to hear better. If we’re struggling to hear what is spoken, we automatically use visual cues to fill in what’s missing. This can be difficult to do when people are wearing masks.

For example, if you have hearing loss and your doctor is wearing a mask, it could be even more difficult to hear him. This poses problems with hearing important instructions that could affect your health. Yes, wearing masks may be a good idea for slowing the spread of certain diseases. But, it’s also important to be aware of their effect on communication with people who have hearing loss.

Hearing loss treatment, such as the use of hearing aids, can help minimize the negative effects of mask wearing and social distancing. If you haven’t already done so, schedule a thorough hearing evaluation with a hearing health care professional as soon as possible. Remember that they are on your side and you are not alone. With appropriate treatment, hearing loss doesn’t have to be inconvenient or embarrassing!