LAFAYETTE, LA (KADN)- Audiologists in Acadiana have been seeing an influx of new patients who are experiencing hearing loss since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to Dr. Elizabeth LeMaire, an audiologist at the ACI Hearing and Balance Center, the mask mandate plays a role in this. She has clients of all ages realizing that they depend on more than just sound to understand what someone is saying.
“Cat versus hat versus matt. All those words have the same vowel sounds, different consonant sounds that for a person with a mild or moderate hearing loss may miss,” Lemaire said.
The center has had a 25% increase in new patients since the beginning of the pandemic. Patients range from as young as kindergarten to 50 years old.
“Prior to the pandemic, they were able to compensate for their hearing loss by being able to lip read and see what their teacher or their bosses were saying, and now with a mask, those visual cues have been impaired. So, they are now noticing ‘wow, I can hear what people are saying, I just can't understand what they're saying anymore like I used to’,” she said.
The audiologist said that there are many different ways to figure out if you or your loved one is experiencing a loss of hearing.
“They may be able to hear, but that say they have trouble understanding. People may they may complain about people sounding muffled. You know, they may tell their family members, if you would just speak a little bit more clearly, I'd be able to understand you better,” she said.
The best way to know for sure is by seeing an audiologist for an evaluation to see what solution is best for you.
“Hearing aids aren’t your grandma's hearing aids anymore, we have behind the ear hearing devices, in-ear hearing devices, and invisible hearing devices. Usually, the first response when a person is fit with their device they'll say, oh, I forgot birds used to chirp, or that the water was so loud,” she said.
Cochlear implantation and bone conduction hearing devices are two other options for aiding severe loss of hearing lost.