Coronavirus and Hearing Loss
2020 has been a vastly different year for most of us, Covid-19 has changed pretty much every aspect of our lives. As these changes filter through, we take stock on the impact for people with hearing loss.
1 in 6 adults in the UK are affected by some level of hearing loss. Many people with hearing loss rely on facial expressions and lip reading to communicate. When the government issued guidance on wearing face coverings due to the Coronavirus pandemic, thousands of people with hearing loss were put at a disadvantage as their means of communication was covered by a mask.
Thanks to work by Action on Hearing Loss UK if you are travelling with or assisting someone who relies on facial expressions and lip reading to communicate you are exempt from wearing a face covering. You will not be doing anything illegal or face a penalty if you remove your face covering to communicate with someone who is Deaf or has a hearing loss. You can download a printable exemption card or download an electronic exemption card to your smart phone from https://actiononhearingloss.org.uk/coronavirus-response/face-coverings-how-the-regulations-apply-to-you/
You can purchase or make your own face coverings with clear panels built in to allow the mouth to be seen. Despite clear masks tending to fog or steam up, they are generally seen as an improvement on a solid face covering as it allows the movement of lips and mouth to be seen.
Research into Covid-19 is beginning to appear, and some interesting connections are being made between the virus and changes in hearing. Research by a team from Manchester University suggest that over 1 in 10 adults who received hospital treatment for Covid-19 reported a change to their hearing status 8 weeks after leaving hospital. Currently it is unknown whether this change is as a result of the virus, the treatments given in hospital or from the excessive immune reaction by the body to the virus (International Journal of Audiology 2020). However, it suggests that the effects of Covid-19 on hearing care are going to last well into the future.
Safe working is of paramount importance to us. We are guided by the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists and follow their in-depth protocols and recommendations on safe working. We have plenty of PPE, strict cleaning schedules and a variety of checks to ensure the continued safety of staff and clients at Lakeland Hearing. We welcome you to our clinics but if you feel you would rather a telephone or video consultation please let us know and we can arrange to speak to you in a way that ensures your safety and comfort.
International Journal of Audiology 2020: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14992027.2020.1798519