Plus, social distancing guidelines, which require you to stand at least 6 feet away from others, are key to staying safe but also decrease the level of sound that will ultimately reach you. “We are finding that individuals with mild hearing loss who may have felt that they didn’t have enough of a problem hearing are coming into the clinic to get hearing aids because the addition of masks has made their communication challenges much greater,” says Catherine Palmer, PhD, president of the American Academy of Audiology and director of audiology and hearing aids at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. (If you’re considering buying hearing aids for the first time, here are CR’s top picks.)
If you wear a behind-the-ear hearing aid, it’s easy for the aid to get caught in the mask loop that goes behind your ear when you remove the mask. “We’ve had many patients lose hearing aids in the past few months because of mask removal,” Palmer says.
The easiest way to fix this is to move your mask strap away from directly behind your ear, she suggests, whether it’s wearing a headband or hat with buttons, pulling your mask around a ponytail or bun, purchasing a mask with ties, or buying an elastic strap for the mask.
You can also clip the hearing aid directly to your clothing with a device such as the OtoClip or Ear Gear, or even double stick tape, so even if it does come out of your ear, it won’t get lost. “We often use these with active children or older adults who may pull out their hearing aids,” Palmer says.
She also recommends talking to your audiologist about hearing aid insurance, and/or check with your homeowners policy or renter’s insurance policy to see if you can add lost hearing aid coverage.