USE of masks increases throat conditions in teachers by 40 per cent
The instances of aphonias, dysphonia and a whole host of throat and vocal cord conditions among teachers have increased by up to 40 per cent since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Spanish daily Informacion. Speech and language specialists attribute this surge to the use of masks, which subconsciously causes people to speak louder or in a higher pitch, putting excess strain on the voice, leading to vocal fatigue, discomfort or pain.
The Occupational Health and Safety technicians have now appealed to the Ministry of Education to install speakers and voice amplifiers in classrooms to help teachers avoid straining their voices.
“In reality, the simple fact of wearing a mask does not make a person less audible, but we think it does and that leads us to tend to increase our tone of voice even if it is not necessary. The voice is misused and cases of dysphonia are increasing,” explained Maica Ferrer, a hearing and language specialist at the Virgen del Remedio Institute of Alicante.
The expert added that because of social distancing rules if a student needs help and a teacher can’t move close, “the volume is raised again and the voice is forced.”
An additional challenge faced by teachers is outside noise caused by the necessity of leaving classroom doors and windows open to increase ventilation, according to Juan Carlos Mazo of the Department of Health Psychology at the Miguel Hernandez University of Elche. To counteract this, many schools are trying to make room in their budget to purchase ‘tour guide’ style headsets for their teacher to allow them to amplify their voices without straining them.
“The mask alters us, we increase the sound of our voice, we strain the vocal cords and we have chosen to equip ourselves with systems that amplify the voice,” one Alicante school said.
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