Morningside Hearing Specialist Says Masks May Be Making it Harder for Sufferers of ‘Silent Epidemic’

What can the hearing impaired do when masking mandates or social distancing rules are in place and it becomes challenging to communicate with other people because they can no longer lip-read? Innovative solutions, the creative use of technology, and audiology professionals such as those from Total Hearing and Health Morningside can make life under the ‘new normal’ easier for the hearing impaired.

As Australia battles the long shadow of Covid-19 in the midst of a global pandemic, mask mandates, social distancing, and stay-at-home orders highlight the challenges that beset people suffering from hearing loss, the ‘silent epidemic’ that currently affects millions in the country.

Photo Credit: Facebook/Ashley Lawrence

Now, more than ever, visual cues have become important. Mask companies and creative entrepreneurs have innovated to come up with clever solutions like mask pins and transparent panels on masks to facilitate lip-reading.

Photo Credit: Facebook/Naomi Grace

Technology has become the great equaliser. Speech-to-text phone apps are widely used for communication among the hearing impaired to maintain protection and enable them to have proper conversations. “Make sure you hold the phone close to the speaker and ask them to articulate clearly,” a Morningside specialist suggested.

Photo Credit: Ruby Wallau

Notepad apps on smartphones can also come in handy. In a pinch, good ol’ fashioned pen and paper is always useful.

‘Silent Epidemic’

According to the Australian Department of Health, 3.6 million Australians suffer from some form of hearing loss and 1.3 million live with hearing conditions.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Despite having to deal with this ‘silent epidemic,’ many people successfully deal with hearing loss, from tinnitus to being completely deaf, and have gone on to live productive and meaningful lives.

John Howard started using hearing devices at age 19 and even had a series of operations to correct and restore his sense of hearing. He went on to become one of Australia’s longest-serving Prime Ministers.

John Howard
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Cindy Lu Fitzpatrick is deaf but that hasn’t stopped her from becoming a bemedalled swimmer who has met and made friends with other hearing-impaired athletes while representing Australia in international competitions.

Being a presenter and journalist, Osher Gunsberg is a familiar face on television and radio. Whilst in his teens, he suffered permanent damage to his ear and in the years since then, felt his hearing decline. This hasn’t stopped him from building a successful career, with the help of his hearing aid.

Medical specialists agree that hearing loss prevention should be an integral aspect of maintaining good health and quality of life, as “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” One of the first steps to better hearing health is to undergo an annual hearing test, especially for those above 50 years old.

Photo Credit: Direct Media/StockSnap

Tinnitus, a common problem among 15 to 20 per cent of ageing Australians, can be managed with mindfulness therapies, guided by specialists.

Many hearing issues can be detected and managed with regular check-up, interventions, and monitoring. Actually, 85 percent of hearing loss issues will not require hearing aids or implants.

For most people, the gradual deterioration of their hearing capabilities won’t be obvious until they experience difficulties in conversing with others. The realization could be depressing and difficult to reconcile, especially if their symptoms become more noticeable to close friends and family.

According to Health Direct, hearing loss could become permanent when left undetected.  As such, it would be best to get an assessment as early as possible.

Total Hearing and Health

At Total Hearing and Health Morningside, the medical staff understands that addressing hearing loss issues requires patience, experience, and support.

It is part of a network of small, independent, family-focused companies that provide hearing tests and assessments, tinnitus management, and ear cleaning. They conduct a minimum of three appointments per patient to ensure the utmost precision in a patient’s treatment plan.

Ongoing support is also provided to patients for life, especially for those who will need hearing aids. The company provides a helpful selection of hearing aids that suit every need or budget.  

Photo Credit: Total Hearing and Health

For Spring 2021, the centre is offering a “Buy 1 hearing aid and Get 40% off the second” deal for devices with new technology. The offer covers four to five years of warranty for rechargeable devices with Bluetooth iOS or Android functions.

Because Total Hearing and Health is an independent provider, clients could save $1,000 or more on the services, which includes free hearing tests.

To learn more about hearing health risks, check with Know Your Noise, an initiative funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, or book an appointment with Total Hearing and Health’s Morningside centre. Enquiries can be made at 1300 415 718. Home service appointments are also available.