Face masks pose unique challenges if you wear hearing aids. Both communication and keeping hearing aids in place may be difficult when you wear a mask. Since wearing a face mask helps slow the spread of COVID-19, it’s important that everyone wear one in public settings. These tips will help hearing aid users wear a mask more comfortably so that you and your loved ones stay safe and help stop the spread of the virus.
Tips for wearing a face mask and hearing aidsYour mask needs to fit properly without interfering with your hearing aids. If you wear behind-the-ear hearing aids, the elastic in some masks can irritate your ears and cause the devices to become dislodged. Improve the fit using these simple strategies:
Wear a mask without elasticMany facemasks have elastic that loops around your ears. If you wear a hearing aid, this creates a problem. Instead, seek out a facemask that ties around your head using string or ribbon. It will bypass your ears entirely. You can easily make a mask using one of many YouTube tutorials.
Use your hairIf you wear a mask with elastic straps, use your hair as a tool. Put it in a bun at the back of your head and wrap each strap around the bun to hold the mask in place.
Create a mask extenderSew two buttons to the ends of a four-inch piece of ribbon or fabric. Place the extender at the back of your head and loop each elastic around the buttons. The extender prevents your ears from getting irritated.
Wear a headbandA stretchy, cloth headband is another way to keep tension off your ears. Sew two large buttons on a soft headband—make sure the buttons are placed right above your ears. Loop the mask’s straps around the buttons to remove the strain from your ears.
Mask removalRegardless of how you wear your mask, take care when removing it to keep your hearing aids from getting dislodged. Double check that your hearing aids are still in place every time you take off your mask.
Communication tipsCommunicating while wearing a mask can be difficult for people with hearing loss who may rely on lip reading, facial expressions and body language for understanding. Here are a few recommendations that may help you keep up the conversation:
- Speak slowly and at a normal volume.
- Rephrase a remark instead of simply repeating your statement to ensure understanding.
- Keep background noise to a minimum.
- Take turns when speaking.
- From a safe distance, face your conversation partner when speaking.