by Dr. Nimet Adam
As hearing loss develops, people tend to rely more and more on visual cues such as facial expressions and lip reading. I am often reminded of that patient that will say “Let me put my glasses on so I can hear you better”. A good speech reader can get almost 30% of the conversation just by looking at the person they are communicating with. Since many sounds of speech are visual (vowels and certain consonants), speech reading can support hearing and make communication easier. Audiologists refer to using visual cues as speech reading rather than lip reading because we take into account facial expressions to help decipher the message. For example, raised eyebrows indicate that a question is being asked. Therefore, we encourage patients to look at the entire face and take all these cues into account. Using visual cues can be particularly helpful while listening in noise as will leaning into the speaker and reducing the distance. When communicating we often tell our patients to not be more than 6 feet away from the speaker.
Unfortunately with the Corona Virus Pandemic we are faced with new obstacles for everyone, especially for those with hearing loss… wearing masks and social distancing. It is recommended that when out in public or if you are going to come into close contact with someone then you should be wearing a mask and keeping a distance of at least 6 feet.
The N95 masks (these are the best ones) will take out 12-14 decibels of high frequencies. Remember, that is where 80% of your speech understanding comes from. Cloth masks take out anywhere from 3-8 dB depending upon any lining that may have been added. All masks reduce our ability to read lips and see facial expressions. Add to that the 6 feet rule and now communication is greatly affected.
Here are some helpful tips to improve communication:
Hearing Partners will be using masks that have a clear mouth panel so that our patients don’t have to work so hard to communicate when they are with us! We are “hear” for you so please don’t hesitate to contact our office if you need any assistance with your hearing healthcare.
Delray – 561-638-6530 Boynton – 561-736-6002 Jupiter – 561-736-6002