Intended for healthcare professionals


Masking consonants . . . and other stories

BMJ 2021; 372 doi: (Published 14 January 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n20

Masks and hearing loss

Face masks muffle the low amplitude, high frequency sounds generated by the pronunciation of consonants, which makes oral communication vulnerable to misunderstanding—especially for people with hearing loss. Masks with clear plastic windows help lip reading at the cost of blocking more of the sound. Disposable surgical masks offer the best acoustic performance. Loosely woven cotton masks also perform well acoustically but they may not be as effective as surgical masks at blocking respiratory droplets (J Acoust Soc Am doi:10.1121/10.0002279).

Anti-cholinergic drugs and cognitive impairment

Cholinergic drugs provide modest benefits in cognition for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, so perhaps it’s not surprising that drugs …

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