Generally, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you go out. At times, though, you have a tough time hearing conversations. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the doctor’s office or store. At times, it’s so bad you can hardly grasp a single word. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. Our face coverings aren’t completely at fault, however. It might be your hearing that’s the problem. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic could be uncovering your hearing loss.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
Most quality masks are made to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the case of COVID-19, that’s rather useful because most evidence indicates that water droplets as a contributing factor (all these results, however, are still preliminary and studies are still being conducted). As a result, masks have proven very successful at limiting and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Unfortunately, those same masks interfere with the projection of sound waves. Masks can slightly muffle the human voice. It’s not really a big problem for most individuals. But if you have hearing loss and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it may be hard for you to make out anything being said.
Hearing Impairment Makes Your Brain Work Overtime
But your trouble understanding people wearing masks probably isn’t simply because voices are muffled. There’s more going on than that. You see, the brain is really good at compensating for fluctuations in your hearing, up to a point.
Without your awareness, your brain utilizes contextual information to help you comprehend what’s being said, even if you can’t hear it. Your brain will synthesize physical clues like facial expressions, body language, and especially lip movements to compensate for what it can’t hear.
Many of these visual indicators are hidden when somebody is wearing a mask. You can’t see the shape of someone’s lips or the position of the mouth. You don’t even know if they are smiling or frowning.
Your brain has a really difficult time attempting to interpret what’s being said without that added visual information. So mumbling is probably all you will hear. Even if your brain can, somehow, make sense of what was said, your brain will get tired.
Under regular conditions, a continually compensating brain can cause considerable mental fatigue, often resulting in impatience or loss of memory. Your brain will become even more fatigued when everybody is wearing a mask (but leave it on because it’s essential for community protection).
The pandemic is revealing hearing loss by bringing these concerns into focus. Hearing loss normally develops gradually over time and might not have been recognized in other circumstances. When your hearing first starts to decline, you may dismiss the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you may not even notice this taking place).
This is the reason why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so important. Because of the types of screenings we carry out, we can detect issues with your hearing early, frequently before you observe it yourself.
If you are having a hard time hearing what people are saying when they are wearing a mask, this is especially true. Together we can find ways to make you more comfortable talking with people wearing a mask. Hearing aids, for example, can offer substantial benefits, allowing you to recover much of your functional hearing range. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and comprehend with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
It’s important to remember to wear your mask even as the pandemic reveals hearing loss. Masks are frequently mandated or required because they save lives. The last thing we should do, no matter how tempting, is remove our mask.
So keep your mask on, schedule an appointment with us, and wear your hearing aids. These initiatives will ultimately improve your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.