Q. When I step over to my neighbor’s home to chat, we both wear face masks. Even with my hearing aids on, his mask makes it harder for me to understand him. What can I do to allow my hearing aids to work better in this situation?
A. Yes, face masks have a negative impact on how a person’s voice sounds. A facemask will reduce the volume of a person’s voice, make the voice less distinct and more distorted. And with a mask on, you are unable to get clues from seeing a person’s mouth move as they speak.
First, here a couple of non-hearing aid tips to use. Ask your friend to pull his mask slightly away from his mouth so it does not brush against his lips. This provides for a slightly cleaner sound. Also, ask him to speak just a little slower and a bit louder than normal.
Try these adjustments to your hearing aids so you can hear your neighbor better. First, raise the volume. Second, use a ‘restaurant’ setting that reduces the impact of any ambient noise and makes the hearing aids focus in front of you. Last, use a ‘voice enhancer’ setting to maximize the very soft components of your neighbor’s voice that are diluted more than normal when he wears a face mask. Your hearing center should be able to help you with all of these features – depending on the limitations of your hearing aids.
Here at the Better Hearing Center of Austin we are making appointments for new patients. Get your ears checked and your hearing tested. Listen to hearing aids tuned for your needs. We provide a 4-week hearing aid trial with follow up appointments for our patients to fully test hearing aids before they make a final purchase.