You wear your mask when you go out, sometimes more than one, and you generally don’t mind. At times, however, you have a hard time hearing conversations. When you go to the supermarket or doctor’s appointment, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Sometimes, you can’t make out anything that’s being said. Of course, they’re wearing masks, too. Our face coverings aren’t completely at fault, however. It might be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it another way: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic may be uncovering your hearing loss.
The Human Voice is Muffled by a Mask
Most quality masks are designed to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. The majority of evidence points to airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the instance of COVID-19 so that’s pretty useful (even though the science on the spread is still being carried out, so all results are preliminary). Curtailing and preventing COVID-19, consequently, has been shown to be really effective by wearing masks.
Unfortunately, those same masks interfere with the movement of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice somewhat. For the majority of people, it’s not a big deal. But if you have hearing loss and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it may be difficult for you to understand anything being said.
Hearing Impairment Makes Your Brain Work Overtime
But your difficulty understanding people wearing masks probably isn’t simply because voices are muffled. There’s more going on than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some degree, skilled at compensating for fluctuations in sound quality.
Even if you’re unable to hear what’s going on, your brain will put the event into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Facial expressions, body language, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain automatically to help you compensate for what you’re unable to hear.
When someone is wearing a mask, many of those linguistic cues are obscured. The position of someone’s mouth and the movements of their lips is unseen. You can’t even see if it’s a frown or smile behind the mask.
Without that added information, it’s more difficult for your brain to make up for the audio clues you aren’t receiving automatically. That means you’re more likely to hear nothing but mumbles. Even if your brain can, somehow, make sense of what was said, your brain will get tired.
Under regular circumstances, a continuously compensating brain can cause significant mental exhaustion, sometimes resulting in irritability or loss of memory. With masks in place, your brain will become even more exhausted (it’s worthwhile to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
These concerns are being brought to your attention and hearing loss is being uncovered by the pandemic. Hearing loss usually advances slowly over time and might not have been recognized in different circumstances. When your hearing initially begins to decline, you may ignore the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (maybe you don’t even notice you’re doing it).
This is why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so important. Because of the kinds of screenings we do, we can identify issues with your hearing early, frequently before you observe it yourself.
This is particularly true for anybody presently having trouble comprehending conversations through a mask. We can help you discover strategies to help you navigate a masked world. For instance, hearing aids can help you recover a lot of your functional hearing range and can supply other significant benefits. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and comprehend with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic reveals hearing loss, it’s important to remember you must keep your mask on. Masks are often mandated or required because they save lives. The last thing we should do, no matter how tempting, is take off our mask.
So make an appointment with us, use your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. Following these guidelines will keep you safe and improve your quality of life.