Murphy Hearing Services – Doylestown

    The COVID-19 dilemma: Protection versus hearing

    submitted by Dr. Patrick M. Murphy, Au.D., M.Ed., CCC-A, FAAA, Murphy Hearing Services

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) in late 2019 led to worldwide pandemic spread.

    We have been confronted with the progression and steps for daily personal protection.

    The disease arose from Wuhan, China.

    In the United States, the current administration discarded the national pandemic plan in early 2017 and closed the office of global health security in May 2018.

    The virus arrived at least in February 2020, if not before.

    Guidelines for our protection, include, but are not limited to: wearing face masks, practicing social distancing of at least six feet, frequent hand washing, avoiding groups of more than ten people & large crowds, and more.

    The required use of masks presented a unique problem to hearing impaired and those having receptive communication deficit.

    There are more than 48 million people with hearing loss, the invisible handicap.

    While masks prevent the spread of the disease, they block visual modality to view facial expressions, allow speech-reading (lipreading), and reduce projected volume from the speaker by four to 12 decibels.

    Communication difficulty is increased for everyone and hearing impaired people.

    We hear what we see.

    Those with hearing difficulty experience an elimination of comprehension without required visual clues.

    Masks make undocumented hearing loss evident and communication exhausting.

    Plastic masks allow others to see the mouth and more of the speaker’s face, but tend to fog up.  The plastic face shield allows viewing the entire face for better speech-reading and oxygen for the speaker, but data is not available for protective effectiveness.

    People wearing behind-the-ear amplification must first put the hearing aids on so the devices are next to their head.

    Then place the straps behind and next to the ear to prevent tangling with hearing aids.

    When removing the strap, the facemask won’t pull the devices off the ear.

    Communicating to a person with hearing difficulty it’s critical to speak slowly, rephrase remarks not understood, decrease background noise, face each other, take turns speaking, don’t shout, and the hearing impaired person must be wearing their hearing aids.

    COVID-19 requires wearing protective masks and people with undocumented hearing loss and receptive communication difficulty realize the presence of poor hearing.

    The first step to better hearing is to schedule an appointment with a board certified and licensed private practice audiologist for a complete audiological evaluation today!

    (Sources: U.S. Government, New York Times, Washington Post, Healthy Hearing, Living With Hearing Loss, Hearing Health Matters,,, and WCCO Minnesota)

    PHOTO CAP: Dr. Patrick M. Murphy, Au.D., M.Ed., CCC-A, FAAA

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