The pandemic has challenged us all differently. This has been a unique experience for everyone, and as we start to emerge from the worst of it, we are beginning to see the effect it has had on us.

Since the restrictions lasted so long, it’s likely your hearing has changed in some way. The lifestyle change has affected how your brain processes sound, as you have adjusted your hearing environment so much.

With most people staying home more and not attending regular workspaces, restaurants, public transportation, or any social events, it’s easy for your hearing to become “lazy.”

Your hearing may have adapted to a quieter schedule and may not respond the way you remember as you start to get back to normal.

I have some pointers here on how to reintroduce your hearing to everyday life and limit the shock your ears will experience as you return to pre-covid routines.

Don’t Rush Into Anything

It can be tempting to go right back to old rituals and pretend as if nothing happened. I encourage all my patients to resist this urge.

With hearing loss or not, listening to speech in noisy places can be difficult. Here are some tips to make it easier

  • Move closer to the person that you’re talking to and face them directly.
  • Try to avoid cross-conversation and ask only one person to speak at a time if possible.
  • In a noisy restaurant or a restaurant with music, ask the host for the quietest table.

Also, search for restaurants that encourage private conversations. Seat yourself in the center of the group with the noise behind you. If you’re currently wearing hearing aids, in addition to these tips, we can make adjustments to your hearing devices for better hearing in these challenging situations.   

Beware Of Your Surroundings

Noise is all around us, but too much noise can cause hearing loss. The good news is you can protect your hearing while enjoying the things you love.

Protection – Use hearing protection, at least for your first few outings to louder environments. Hearing protection comes in all types, from non-custom foams to a custom product designed to protect from certain things and certain levels of noise.

Take Breaks – You don’t have to get back into your routine right away. For your first time out in a loud setting, don’t be afraid to excuse yourself to give your ears a break. This can have a significant effect on the long-term sustainability of your hearing.

Remove Yourself Completely – While I don’t want to encourage withdrawal or isolation, it’s okay to leave or not attend functions that you think may damage your hearing. Your health is more important than any get-together or concert. If this is the case for you, please contact me, and we can discuss a plan of action so you can still enjoy all the loud things in life.

Get The Most From Your Hearing Aids

I advise each and every one of my patients that there are three necessary ingredients to have successful outcomes with hearing aids.

  1. The person with a hearing loss must be motivated to hear better.
  2. They need to find an audiologist with whom they connect and feel comfortable accompanying them on their better hearing journey.
  3. They need to wear a current FDA-approved hearing device.

If any of these three areas falter, there will likely be challenges and possibly dissatisfaction for the hearing aid user. Incorrectly programmed hearing devices can make the user’s experience a disaster.

Sound quality and speech clarity may be poor and uncomfortable. Correctly programmed hearing devices should provide benefits for the user in any situation.

It’s also important to have realistic expectations of hearing devices based on your hearing loss. This is something that should be explained to you by your audiologist.

If you’ve been provided a good understanding of your hearing loss and the challenges that it poses you, then you should also understand how hearing aids can make a big difference in your quality of life.

If you feel that your expectations are realistic and not being met, you must visit your audiologist to have your hearing retested and your hearing aids adjusted. Often as someone adapts to hearing devices, they feel that their hearing aids are not performing as well as they once did.

Typically, as your brain adjusts to the devices, they are ready to handle more sound. Often a simple adjustment can return that crisp sound quality that you crave.

How Has Covid Affected Your Hearing?

Communication and mask wearing during the coronavirus pandemic continues to be a challenge for those with a hearing loss.

Many people with a hearing loss are unaware that they strongly rely on visual cues such as lip reading to understand speech. The mouth being covered has made this skill unusable.

In addition, mask wearing attenuates speech and makes it muffled and less clear, adding additional challenges for those with a hearing loss. Another big issue has been for individuals who wear devices that sit behind their ears.

Behind the ear has limited real estate. The use of masks, glasses, and behind-the-ear hearing aids is often very challenging.

If you are bothered by any of this, then please come and see me to discuss options. You can also call anytime to speak with a qualified member of our team if that is more comfortable for you.

As always, I encourage regular check-ups for a comprehensive hearing exam. This test gives me all the information I need to treat your hearing and ensure it’s functioning at its best.

As we return to normal, this is the best time to ensure your hearing is operating at total capacity.  

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Dr. Michelle Couture-Souvenir, Au.D

Dr. Michelle Couture-Souvenir, Au.D., is Florida’s leading doctor of audiology and has over 25 years of experience in this dynamic industry. Before setting up her own business in Florida & Central America, she served as a pediatric audiologist and rehabilitative services manager at the Miami Children’s Hospital. She has worked with patients of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds during her long and diverse career, and she is still heavily involved in international humanitarian projects, helping hearing-impaired children globally.