You wear your mask when you go out, sometimes more than one, and you generally don’t mind. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s hard 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. Quite often, you can’t understand anything that’s being said. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. Our face coverings aren’t really at fault, however. The real issue may lie with your hearing. Or, to put it another way: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic could be uncovering your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle Speech
Most good 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 (all these results, though, are still preliminary and studies are still being done). This means that masks have proven quite successful at limiting and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
But masks clearly can stop the projection of sound waves. The human voice will be somewhat muffled by a mask. For most 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 make out anything being said.
Hearing Impairment Makes Your Brain Work Overtime
The obstruction of sound waves probably isn’t the sole reason you’re having trouble comprehending someone wearing a mask. It’s more involved than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, adept 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. Your brain will synthesize things like facial expressions, body language, and especially lip movements to compensate for anything it can’t hear.
When somebody is wearing a mask, many of those visual cues are hidden. You can’t see the shape of someone’s lips or the alignment of the mouth. You don’t even know if they are frowning or smiling.
Without that added input, it’s harder for your brain to make up for the audio clues you aren’t getting automatically. 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.
The fatigue of a brain trying to continually compensate, under typical circumstances, can result in loss of memory and impatience. With masks in place, your brain will become even more tired (it’s important to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
These issues are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being uncovered by the pandemic. It Isn’t causing the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone undetected because hearing loss commonly progresses quite slowly. In the early stages of hearing loss we usually don’t even notice it and frequently start raising the volume on our devices (you might not even detect this happening).
That’s why it’s essential 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 anyone currently having difficulty comprehending conversations through a mask. Together we can determine strategies to make you more comfortable talking with people wearing a mask. Hearing aids, for example, can offer considerable benefits, allowing you to recover a lot of your functional hearing range. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and understand with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic exposes hearing loss, it’s essential to remember you must keep your mask on. 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 make an appointment with us, wear your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. Sticking with these guidelines will keep you safe and enhance your quality of life.