The use of the face mask reduces the ability to communicate by covering facial expressions.
(MEXICO CITY. – UNAM)- The use of face masks has become an infallible tool to avoid contagion by COVID-19. However, their daily presence has reduced effective communication in people with hearing problems , who are mainly guided by lip reading and facial expression to understand the message that the interlocutor emits.
Antonio Soda Merhy, an otorhinolaryngologist at UNAM, stressed that this is not an isolated problem, generated from the emergence of the pandemic, but rather one that afflicts a large part of the population, since more than 10 million people could present some degree of Hearing loss in Mexico.
The member of the Faculty of Medicine said that this sector of the population has had to adapt to the situation “as it can”, by asking the people with whom they communicate to
- increase the volume of their voice,
- gesticulate the words more slowly or simply
- isolate from those around you to avoid failed communication with their receivers
- when the mask is on, the decibels of the voice are altered and decreased.
What is hearing loss?
Hearing loss is a condition known to medicine as “hearing loss.” This condition can develop at different levels, depending on the severity. According to the academic, a person without any hearing problem perceives from 0 to 20 decibels, while someone who begins to show hearing impairment, in the slightest degree, reaches from 20 to 40, and it is a superficial condition.
Medium hearing impaired capture 40 to 60; severe disability, from 60 to 80; and deep, more than 80.
Soda Merhy pointed out that hearing loss occurs inherited or acquired . In addition, she indicated that among the groups most susceptible to hearing problems are children who were born with hearing problems, as well as people who develop this condition as a result of the appearance of other diseases.
“The important thing here is that someone who is born with hearing acquires language; those who do not become deaf and dumb patients,” explained the professor at the Faculty of Medicine.
In our country, more than 10 million inhabitants could present some degree of hearing loss”.
How does the ear work?
To understand the hearing deficiencies that we could present, the otorhinolaryngologist explained the parts that make up this organ of hearing:
“The anatomy of the ear is divided into external, middle and internal: the external is made up of the auricle and the auditory canal that ends in the eardrum; in the middle ear there are three small bones (hammer, incus and stirrup); and the internal It is formed by the cochlea or cochlea and the labyrinth (different nerves),” he said in a statement.
The hearing process -he explained- is carried out when a sound wave hits the eardrum, which is responsible for moving the ossicles and stirrup conducted to the fluid of the inner ear; Until then, the stimulus is mechanical.
Subsequently, after mobilizing the liquid, the snail works as an energy converter, transforming the stimuli into bioelectric waves, which through the auditory nerve reach the cerebral cortex, an area in which the auditory sensation is processed.
According to the expert, when the problem is in the outer or middle ear, hearing loss is conductive, while when it occurs in the inner ear, it is a sensorineural dysfunction.
The researcher warned that it depends on the severity of the problem so that it has the possibility of being treated, since for the problems manifested in the external and middle ear they do have a solution, through various treatments, such as widening the duct, replacing the tympanic membrane or place a graft until a prosthesis is placed instead of the ossicles. But if the problem reached the depth of the ear, there is no way to treat the condition.
Finally, the specialist said that one way to address the communication problem, in people with hearing impairments, so that face masks are not an impediment to interact, masks can be designed with a window of transparent material, at the level of the mouth, so in this way, lips can be read. This type of face shield is already widely used in other regions such as Spain.
The Yucatan Times