With the COVID-19 pandemic, the recommendation for everyone to wear a face mask in public to prevent the spread of the virus is becoming more common place and even mandatory in some situations such as public transport.

At Boots Hearingcare we wanted to help give some advice for our customers who wear hearing aids and will use a face covering/mask. As you fit a face mask whilst wearing your hearing aid you may dislodge it’s position on your ear which could cause the hearing aid to fall from your ear, possibly without you noticing which may result in it getting lost.

Here are our top 10 advice tips for helping to keep your Hearing Aids secure whilst wearing a Face Mask:

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1. Tie back long hair
Keep your ears as clear as possible by tying back long hair and removing glasses before putting mask on.

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2. Use the right face mask
Use a mask/face covering with four strings and ties behind the head rather than the type with ear loops.

3. Hearing aid first
Make sure if using an ear loop mask that the loop fits to the outside of the aids – so the loop holds the aids against the head.

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4. Use face mask extenders
Use alternative ways of attaching the mask such as button extensions or mask extenders (these can be made or bought). Or a fastener clip for your hearing aids such as the Otoclips.

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5. Frequent checking
Remember to keep checking that the hearing aids are still in place during fitting, wearing and following removal of the mask. Before leaving a location check that your hearing aids are still in your ears

6. Remove one side at a time
Remove one side of the mask at a time, as opposed to both sides at once. Never just pull the mask off, instead carefully hold the hearing aid with one hand whilst removing the mask with the other. Take your time. Alternatively take your hearing aids out first and keep them somewhere safe whilst you then remove the mask.

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7. Use both hands
Make sure nothing else is in your hands when putting on or removing your mask. This will free up both hands for the task. Focus only on the task at hand ie, don’t try to fit or remove mask whilst distracted talking on the phone or putting shopping in the car.

8. Find a safe place
If possible fit and remove your mask at home over a table covered with a towel so if the hearing aids fall they land softly, safely, can be easily seen and retrieved. If you can’t do this at home then find a quiet corner of a building where you can check the floor if it falls down or in your car.

9. Double check
Before you discard masks or put reusable ones in the washing machine check that your hearing aids are not tangled up in the mask straps. 

10. Remove glasses upwards
When wearing aids, glasses and mask, remove glasses upwards instead of forwards, slowly and whilst standing still.
We’d also recommend to give reassurance that you ensure your hearing aids are insured against accident loss or damage. Boots Hearingcare can offer insurance cover or speak with your home contents insurer. Find out more about Boots Hearingcare Insurance scheme

When others wear face masks and you have a hearing loss

All of us whether we have a hearing loss or not rely on seeing people’s face to pick up on the emotion, expression and lip shape to add to our understanding of what is being said. Of course those of us with a hearing loss rely on this a lot more. When the person we are speaking with is wearing a mask which covers most of their face we lose this information and it can make it a real challenge to follow conversation. In addition to this, face masks can distort and muffle some soft high frequency sounds making it difficult to discriminate some consonants ie; did someone say “chair, stare or share”?

Here are our top tips to help ease communication:

Make sure you are wearing your hearing aids and they are in good working order.

Tell people you have a hearing loss and you cannot follow what is being said.

Wear a badge and make people aware of the badge.

Do not talk while walking

Ask people to face you and at a safe distance talk to you without wearing a mask

Ask people to face you and talk to you without wearing a mask by safely standing behind a clear screen or using a clear visor

Ask people if they have access to facemask with a clear panel

Ask people to speak slower, clearly in short sentences and not to shout. 

If you don’t understand, repeat the bits you heard and ask for further clarification

Ask people to rephrase, to use different words or way of explaining something rather than just repeating the same words which you can’t hear well.

If you have control, reduce the room's background noise (ie, turn TV/radio volume down) or move to a quieter area.

If your hearing aid has a loop facility ask if there is a loop system available to use

We hope you’ve found this information useful, and they help you manage wearing a face mask or covering whilst wearing your hearing aids. If you’ve got any questions or helpful hints or tips of you own, then we’d love to hear them – please share your ideas with us.