Face Masks & Hearing Loss by Dr. Allison Holtz

Current guidelines requiring use of face masks in public areas can make it harder for individuals, especially those with hearing loss, to communicate.

By Dr. Allison Holtz
Face masks have been found to degrade speech signals by up to 12 dB in the high frequency (2000 – 7000 Hz) range, according to an article in the Hearing Review. These higher frequencies help with clarity of speech and are degraded further by background noise.

In addition to degrading high frequency speech sounds, masks also cover essential visual cues of a speaker (lip reading) that aid in speech understanding. “Mask Mode” in select Starkey Livio products and other programming features can help to alleviate some of these challenges in hearing aid users by amplifying more of the frequency range that is degraded by use of face masks.