Pandemic reveals hearing loss for more people

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PHOENIX – Not all complaints about masks were about the discomfort of wearing them, as those who complained may have been unable to hear others speak while wearing masks, hearing specialists say it was a key indicator of hearing loss that otherwise went unnoticed.

Kory Castro with Beltone West says that some masks muffle high tones, that’s where we get clarity and recognize consonants in speech.

He says surgical and cloth masks reduce sound by 3 to 4 decibels, affecting people who already have recognized hearing loss. The n-95 and k-95 masks reduce sound by 10 decibels, or about half.

The masks also revealed that people in the early stages of hearing loss rely on lip reading more than they would have imagined.

“Lipreading accounts for about 30% of speech understanding. So other people wearing masks are doing tasks in the treble range down and you add that to lipreading and that leads to a lot of frustration. ” Castro said.

In general, he recommends having a hearing test before the age of 55. Other indicators that may signal a problem are if you find you cannot easily follow conversations in a crowded area or restaurant, if you cannot hear birds chirping, and if you cannot hear your car flashing. car.

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