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. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the store or doctor’s office. Sometimes, 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. The real problem could be your hearing. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic may be revealing your hearing impairment.
The Human Voice is Muffled by a Mask
Most good masks are manufactured to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. Most evidence indicates airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the instance of COVID-19 so that’s very useful (all these results, however, are still preliminary and studies are still being carried out). Limiting and stopping COVID-19, consequently, has been proven really effective by wearing masks.
Unfortunately, those same masks impede the movement of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. It’s not really a big concern for most individuals. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it may be hard for you to comprehend anything being said.
Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Overtime
But your difficulty understanding people wearing masks most likely isn’t only because voices are muffled. There’s more going on than that. You see, the brain is extremely good at compensating for changes in your hearing, up to a point.
Even if you can’t hear what’s happening, your brain will put the situation 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 can’t hear.
Many of these visual indicators are concealed when someone 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 very difficult time trying to translate what’s being said without that added visual information. 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.
The fatigue of a brain trying to continuously compensate, under normal circumstances, can result in loss of memory and irritability. With masks on, your brain will become even more fatigued (it’s worthwhile to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
The pandemic is revealing hearing loss by bringing these concerns into focus. It’s not causing the condition in the first place, but it might have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss typically advances quite slowly. When your hearing first starts to diminish, you might ignore the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you may not even detect this occurring).
That’s why it’s important to visit us regularly. Because of the variety of screenings we carry out, we can identify problems with your hearing early, often before you notice it yourself.
If you are having a difficult time hearing what people are saying when they’re wearing a mask, this is particularly true. Together we can determine ways to make you more comfortable conversing with people wearing a mask. Hearing aids, for instance, can offer substantial benefits, allowing you to recover a lot of your functional hearing range. Hearing aids will make it much easier to hear, and understand the voices behind the masks.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic exposes 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 keep your mask on, schedule an appointment with us, and wear your hearing aids. Sticking with these guidelines will keep you safe and enhance your quality of life.