Listen Live

INDIANAPOLIS — “What did you say?” or “can you repeat that?” or even “Huh?” if you find yourself saying these phrases a lot more during the pandemic it could just be the mask, but have you thought that it could be hearing loss?

“In my clinic, I have seen a 20% increase in the number of patients seeking help for hearing loss,” said Dr. Rick Nelson, an Otolaryngologist at Indiana University Health.

He said that out of that 20% almost all have been diagnosed with hearing loss.

He said hearing loss can happen at any age, but 25% of those 65 and older tend to have hearing loss, and without having to wear a mask before the pandemic, it’s possible some people may not have noticed, or prolonged testing.

“I think the masks do a couple things. One is they muffle the speech that people are producing so not only does it decrease the volume but it decreases some of the speech frequencies that we want to hear,” Nelson talking with WISH-TV. “Then two, one of the cruxes is the visual input we get from looking at someone’s face and looking at their lips while they’re talking.”

If you’re unsure whether it’s hearing loss or the mask to blame, he said you can sit in a quiet room and talk with someone wearing a mask, or phone a friend that isn’t wearing one. If you can’t hear the person sitting across from you, or the person on the phone it’s time for a test.

He said the tests take about 20 minutes and are painless.