Dr. Gyl Kasewurm on how masks are impacting the deaf and hard of hearing

NOW: Dr. Gyl Kasewurm on how masks are impacting the deaf and hard of hearing

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. – Dr. Gyl Kasewurm, a doctor of audiology, spoke about how masks are impacting the deaf and hard of hearing, how coronavirus impacts the senses, and how the virus is impacting her business.

Kasewurm, who runs Professional Hearing Services in St. Joseph, Michigan, encourages people to wear clear face masks, also known as communicator masks, so that those who are deaf or hard of hearing, can have an easier time lip-reading.

“When you take away sound,” Kasewurm said, “which you do with a solid mask and when you take away the visual cues of lip-reading, it is a big problem for people with hearing loss. You’re pretty much reducing the speech by half and it’s impossible to understand the conversation.”

When asked about measuring the sound that comes out from the masks, Kasewurm said, “We’ve measured that in the office. It takes away about 16 decibels, which in fact reduces a normal voice to a very soft voice, which would be a muffle to many people. So they can hear it, but it just won’t be clear or the people won’t be able to understand what you’re saying and so it’s very easy then to misunderstand the message you are sending.”

Most studies have shown that coronavirus effects smell and taste sense, but a forgotten impact is that of sound.

“I just read an article, before this call, by the National Institute of Health, indicating that hearing loss is definitely one of the factors in the COVID virus,” Kasewurm said. “Not only is it causing problems with communication but the COVID virus is really causing problems with hearing loss.”

“It’s causing more hearing loss because of some of the medications people are taking, but also because of some of the problems with blood flow and things have been detected, “ Kasewurm clarified on how coronavirus effects hearing. “It’s causing losses on one side, so unilateral losses.”

Patients are still being seen at Kasewurm’s practice, sometimes getting inventive with how patients are being seen.

“So at Professional Hearing Services we know the needs of the hearing impaired,” Kasewurm said. “If they can’t hear, they can’t communicate, which is very stressful, especially being isolated. “

Professional Hearing Services starting doing curbside services, or White Glove Services, where patients drive up into designated parking services and someone comes out wearing a mask and gloves and fixes and repair things without coming in the office.

“we’ve gone to great lengths to make sure it’s a safe environment for our patients,” Kasewurm said.

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