COLUMBUS (WCMH) – May is Better Speech and Hearing Month.
For many struggling with this, lip-reading has been one of many ways for people to communicate, but with people wearing face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19, that visual clue has been missing.
Usually in May, the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center offers free hearing screenings. However, due to the pandemic, hearing experts are encouraging people to talk to their doctors about changes in their hearing.
Take, for example, Patrick Vincent. Though he started losing his hearing on one side of his ear at only 14, he said the challenge to hear has never left, even with cochlear implants.
Many years later, he lost his hearing in both ears. During the pandemic, it’s made everything even more difficult for him, including attending mass online.
“We do it online,” Vincent said. “You’re hearing a person’s voice through electronics and it’s a little more difficult. A lot of the times, you can’t tell who is talking.”
He said with people wearing face masks, it’s been frustrating to do things he once loved like playing music and even joining groups for the hearing impaired for in-person worship at his church, so they can help each other out when translation gets lost. It’s why he doesn’t wish this on anyone.
“People sometimes think you’re dumb. They’ll ask you a question and I’ll answer the wrong question cause I thought I heard what they said, really,” Vincent said. “All the technical devices all kind of help get away from all of that.”
OSU Wexner Medical Center’s Meghan Hiss suggests others who are hard of hearing to explore options like hearing aids and cochlear implants.
If you’re unsure if you’re losing your hearing, she suggests paying attention to your environment such as car movement, when someone speaks to you directly, and even when you’re watching television.
“The big thing we’re concerned with is how hearing loss has been tied in with memory-related issues and cognition,” Hiss said. “You try to act on that sooner rather than later.”
For more information on hearing loss, visit https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/ear-nose-throat/hearing-and-balance/hearing-loss.