The Mask Problem: Solved

No question about it, masks have been a pain for people with hearing aids. The elastic ear piece gets tangled with the behind-the-ear hearing-aid component and sometimes pulls it off. Wearing a mask has been not only annoying but sometimes disastrous when coupled with hearing aids or cochlear implants. I lost a cochlear implant (found by a neighbor, thankfully).

But most of us wore them anyway, each figuring out our own imperfect solution. Take off the hearing aid? Anchor everything with a hat? Get new, completely in-the-ear hearing aids? Use a mask that goes behind the head rather than behind the ear?

My solution was to take off my c.i. when I wore a mask. The mask still got tangled with the hearing aid in my other ear, but it was easier to manage. Not wearing my cochlear implant definitely negatively impacted my hearing, and not wearing your cochlear implant is not a good idea. Nor is not wearing a mask until the CDC tells us it’s okay.

Last week I was at my audiologist’s office and I noticed she was wearing a headband with one large button on each side just behind the ear. Her mask looped over the buttons. She doesn’t wear hearing aids but her ears get tired wearing a mask all day, she told me, and the mask is much more comfortable with the headband, which goes over the ears.

Genius!

The minute I got home I Googled “headband with buttons for mask” and up came dozens of choices. I ordered one headband to try it out. It was perfect. Soft, stretchy, tight enough to fit but not give me a headache. Then I ordered three more, in different colors and patterns.

I won’t name the brand because what works for me might not work for you. But Google “headband with buttons for mask” and take your pick. Or go to a store like Walmart.

I have no need for four headbands, but I love them. They’re fun. They’re also great for sports, and fit both men and women.

Pictured above are just some of the many choices. (Clearly I’m a bit late to this discovery.) Prices vary widely. Most expensive is not necessarily best.

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For more about living with hearing loss, read my books “Smart Hearing: Strategies, Skills and Resources for Living Better With Hearing Loss” and “Shouting Won’t Help: Why I and 50 Million Other Americans Can’t Hear You.” Both are available as ebook and paperback on Amazon.com.

15 thoughts on “The Mask Problem: Solved

  1. Headbands with buttons sound like an ingenious fix.

    I was having the same problem of dislodging my behind-the-ear devices whenever I removed my mask. Then I looked closely and saw that I was looping the elastic over my ears but on the inside between my devices and head or eyeglass stems. I then started to loop the mask on the outside of my devices. Presto, the devices stay in place when I gently unloop the masks.

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  2. One can also find masks that tie in the back of one’s head. I have ordered some online. Also, I have had luck with cutting the elastic on some headbands and making two ties behind my head. If placed right, these do not interfere with one’s hearing aids. And when I “remove” the mask, I just wear it around my neck, an added convenience.

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  3. Thanks Katherine for this totally practical and wonderfully helpful blog! I’m sending it to some friends (some with hearing loss and others without)!

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    • Thanks BB. I was surprised to see that so many other people already seemed to know about this. But it’s been terrifically helpful to me. No lost cochlear implants or hearing aids.

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  4. Thanks for this interesting idea.

    Have used the Barrel of Monkey ones to clip on the back of head, and it has worked for me. People like seeing it. Know it is silly but it has been a practical one so far.

    All the best,
    Carrie

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  5. There’s a little tab w/ 2 buttons widely for sale on the internet, also, that works similarly to your headband. They are usually crocheted. My own solution has been to switch to the Bose Hearphones for the duration–and maybe beyond, I like them so much! Although no longer made by Bose (big mystery why not) one can find them on eBay etc. Several friends have discovered the string gadgets that secure your HAs and clip to your clothing; but it makes for a lot of strings!

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  6. Katherine! I have flung my hearing appliances far and wide as I mismanaged my face mask ear loops. Hardly northing, to my mind, is more frustrating and accusing – found guilty of hearing loss.

    I enjoy a high level of hearing success in my daily activities. A recent test gave me a score of 98% in phrase recognition with both instruments up and running. 88% with the CI only. Then only minutes after that wonderful test I became entangled to a 100% level of frustration in ear loop hell.

    I like the headband button fix. Yet I don’t see the guy section adopting this route to sanity real soon. I may be wrong. It occurs to me that buttons on the sides of a ball cap could be more masculine in appearance but requiring special attention. I’m considering sewing a couple of buttons on my Red Sox cap and checking this out. If I can manage this, I’ll let you know. I also think I’ll order at least one head band just to cover my bet.

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  7. Some people also make a little strip with 2 buttons that goes on the back of the head, and the mask loops attach to the buttons. I like the idea but am not handy about making such things and haven’t figured out what it would be called so I could google it. But such a device seems a little more gender neutral and doesn’t require the kind of hair that works with headbands. If you figure out how to google them, please share.

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  8. Posting this for Carrie, whose post didn’t go through.

    Bought Barrel of Monkey game, and it is a monkey that have arms that you can hook it up to the ear loops and place it back of your head; it has worked for me so far. It is cheap as well. Found this tip through Hearing Like Me website. It looks silly, but people have commented that they like it.

    Hope this helps. Know masks have been a hindrance for many… hoping that maskless will be implemented once there is a large percentage of vaccinations being done

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