Advice For Hearing Aid Wearers Following COVID-19

10/25/2021 | Hearing loss, Patient Resources

With the Delta variant still making headline news, we continue to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions. However, since the reopening of public spaces, many of us are getting back out there and enjoying life in Oregon.

We’ve spent the last 18 months at home in relative quiet and now we have to step back out into the noisy world again. For hearing aid wearers, this means readjusting those settings to match the newness.

For others, studies are showing that COVID-19 can cause hearing loss, tinnitus, and dizziness. We’re here to support you with a diagnosis and treatment plan if necessary.

Below, I have some tips to share on how to readjust to “normality” and what to do if you believe your hearing has changed since COVID-19.

#1- Allow For An Adjustment Period 

If you’re a hearing aid wearer, this is a good time to refresh your hearing aids and wireless connectivity!

Hearing aids work really well in quiet environments and one-on-one, but when we get into complex listening environments, such as restaurants or grocery stores, things can get a little dicey. It can be harder to decipher what you want to hear from the din of the background noise.

A couple of tips:

  1. Start out with your best-case scenario – ensure your hearing aids are cleaned and tuned up to your current thresholds and listening needs. We may need to test your hearing if it has been a while.
  2. You may need to reboot your phone to refresh the connection to your hearing aids. There may even be a current firmware update for your hearing aids and phone that will improve performance.If it has been more than six months since you have had us take a look at your hearing aids, it is likely that you are missing the most recent updates.
  3. Your accessories may need to be paired or tuned up. Do you use a remote microphone? They are awesome, but those mics can get gunked up with dust and dirt, and that can impact performance.

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#2 – Be Aware Of Your Environment 

Hearing protection is one of my favorite things to talk about with people. We all know the best hearing protection is the one that you wear. This means that it is super important that you have hearing protection that is comfortable and accessible.

I have learned the hard way that my super cute, comfortable purple earmuffs (that are hanging on a nail in my barn) are not super effective when I am on the lawnmower going down the hill. Once I moved my earmuffs to the tools I use them with, my whole family got better about wearing hearing protection.

For concerts: Brian and I love music festivals. We have tried dozens of different earplugs designed for musicians and concert goers over the years. My favorite earplugs are whichever ones I have in my bag when I show up to the show. 🙂

Brian and I have very different-shaped ears; his favorite pair is not my favorite pair. I recommend getting a few different kinds and trying them out to see which ones are the most comfortable.

I would love to talk to you about your specific needs when it comes to hearing protection. There are great solutions for everyone and for every noisy environment, from the shooting range to mowing the lawn.

#3 – Be Careful Taking Off Your Mask

I have had more loss replacement claims in the last eighteen months than I have in the last eighteen years of my career. Most of the losses occurred while removing a mask.

Like most of us, when I walk out of the store, I am looking forward to ripping my face mask off. For those that wear hearing aids, that is a prime opportunity to dislodge the hearing aid.

We have learned a few tricks in the last year and a half that help people keep their hearing aids on their ears and not in the parking lot or “safely” tucked away in a drawer.

  1. If you have the option to wear a mask that ties behind the head, or that pulls up rather than loops behind the ears, that might be a safer option.
  2. If your mask has ear loops, put the hearing aids on first and then the mask. Make sure the mask loops are on the outside of the hearing aid.
  3. For some people, mask extenders or mask loops really help.
  4. I have had some really smart patients stitch buttons on the sides of a ball cap and loop the mask on the button.

#4 – Ensure Your Hearing Aids Are Programmed Correctly 

Hearing loss is like a fingerprint; everyone’s is very different.

Programming hearing aids is half science, half the art of listening. A good audiologist can take what they learn about you and your lifestyle, acoustic environments, and listening preferences, and work their magic to manipulate the acoustic parameters of the hearing aid to the specific fine-tuned needs of the individual.

It is sort of like we have one of those massive sound-mixing boards in our brains that we apply to the programming of your hearing aids in a way that bends sound to our will.

We have to balance that will with the audiometric targets required to maximize audibility (helping you to actually hear the sounds that your brain needs).

Has Your Hearing Changed During The Lockdown 

We’re happy to discuss any difficulties you might be having with hearing others while wearing face masks and give you our tips on how to make communication easier.

If you think there is something wrong with your hearing aids, let us know. We want to help. But first, here are some things that might be useful to try before you reach out:

  1. Try reboot – power your hearing aid, phone, wireless device, etc. completely off, wait a few seconds, and then turn everything back on.
  2. Check filters and mic ports for earwax or other debris.

If those don’t work, call, email, text, or send a carrier pigeon so we can get your hearing back to its optimal abilities. You can call us at (541) 612-7555 or click here to schedule an Access Audiology consultation.

If you think you or a loved one might have a hearing loss, book a hearing assessment to see if your hearing has changed in the last two years. It’s quick, and you get immediate results.

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Erika Shakespeare CCC-A

Erika Shakespeare, CCC-A, specializes in pediatric and adult diagnostics and amplification. Working with adults to help manage tinnitus and hearing loss since 2002, she is an expert in both of these areas. Additionally, she is a pediatric audiology mentor and educator for pediatric audiologists across the country and is one of the most respected experts on pediatric audiology.

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