Generally, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you leave your house. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s tough to hear what other people are saying. When you go to the supermarket or visit your doctor’s office, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Sometimes, it’s so bad you can barely perceive a single word. They’re also wearing masks, of course. Our face coverings aren’t totally at fault, however. The real problem may lie with your hearing. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic might be uncovering your hearing loss.
The Human Voice is Muffled by a Mask
Most good masks are made to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. The majority of evidence indicates airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the instance of COVID-19 so that’s very useful (all these findings, though, are still in early stages and research is still being done). As a result, masks have shown to be very effective at limiting and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
But masks clearly can stop the movement of sound waves. Masks can slightly muffle the human voice. For most individuals, it’s not a problem. But if hearing loss is a problem for you and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it might be difficult for you to hear anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Impairment
The obstruction of sound waves probably isn’t the sole reason you’re having difficulty comprehending someone wearing a mask. It’s more involved than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some degree, adept at compensating for variations in sound quality.
Even if you’re unable to hear what’s happening, your brain will put the situation into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Body language, facial expressions, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain naturally to help you compensate for what you can’t hear.
Many of these visual hints are concealed when somebody is wearing a mask. You can’t see the shape of someone’s lips or the position of the mouth. You can’t even see if it’s a smile or a frown behind the mask.
Your brain has a very hard time trying to translate what’s being said without that extra visual information. So mumbling is probably all you will hear. And your brain will get tired even if it is able to piece together what was said.
Under normal circumstances, a continuously compensating brain can cause significant mental fatigue, often resulting in impatience or loss of memory. Your brain will become even more fatigued when everyone is wearing a mask (but leave it on because it’s important for community protection).
These issues are being brought to your attention and hearing loss is being uncovered by the pandemic. It’s not creating the condition in the first place, but it might have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss usually progresses quite slowly. When your hearing first starts to decline, you might dismiss the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (maybe you don’t even know you’re doing it).
That’s why it’s important to visit us on a regular basis. We can identify early hearing loss, frequently before you even notice it, because of the screenings we do.
This is especially true for anybody presently having difficulty comprehending conversations through a mask. Together we can find ways to make you more comfortable talking with people who are wearing a mask. For instance, hearing aids can help you recover a lot of your functional hearing range and can supply other significant benefits. Hearing aids will make it a great deal easier to hear, and comprehend the voices behind the masks.
Keep Your Mask on
It’s essential to remember to wear your mask even as the pandemic exposes hearing loss. Masks are often mandated or required because they save lives. One of the issues with muffled voices is that individuals might be tempted to take off their masks, and that’s the last thing we should be doing.
So keep your mask on, schedule an appointment with us, and use your hearing aids. Sticking with these suggestions will keep you safe and improve your quality of life.