Mask wearing revealing more hearing loss in Onalaska community

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT)- An Onalaska hearing aid center says mask-wearing during the pandemic has heightened awareness about hearing loss.

Rebecca Younk, a doctor of audiology at Beltone Hearing Aid Center, says the business has seen an increase of 5-10 calls a week.

New research says a blue procedure mask on people with normal hearing can muffle the sound of speech by 20 percent.

Younk explained humans can understand speech by identifying vowel and consonant sounds out of the mouth, but masks make that process impossible.

“Once you cover the mouth, those consonants are basically blocked, meaning those soft sounds of speech are reduced,” said Younk.

She says more people now realize they’ve been relying on lip reading more than their actual hearing.

If you’re struggling to hear, Younk encourages you to book a consultation before turning to over-the-counter hearing aids.