You wear your mask when you go out, sometimes two of them, and you typically don’t mind. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s hard to hear what other people are saying. When you go to the grocery store or doctor’s appointment, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Sometimes, you can’t understand anything that’s being said. They’re also wearing masks, of course. However, the mask may not be the only source of your trouble. It might be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic could be exposing your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
Most good masks are manufactured to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the instance of COVID-19, that’s pretty useful because most evidence indicates that water droplets as a prominent factor (all these findings, though, are still preliminary and studies are still being done). Limiting and preventing COVID-19, as a result, has been proven very practical by wearing masks.
Unfortunately, those same masks impede the movement of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice somewhat. For the majority of individuals, it’s not a problem. But if hearing loss is a problem for you and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it may be hard for you to comprehend anything being said.
Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Harder
The obstruction of sound waves likely isn’t the only reason you’re having trouble comprehending someone wearing a mask. There’s more going on than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some degree, skilled at compensating for fluctuations in sound quality.
Without your awareness, your brain makes use of contextual information to help you comprehend what’s being said, even if you can’t hear it. Your brain will synthesize things like facial expressions, body language, and especially lip movements to compensate for what it can’t hear.
When someone is wearing a mask, many of those visual cues are concealed. The position of somebody’s mouth and the movements of their lips is hidden. You don’t even know if they are smiling or frowning.
Without that added input, it’s harder for your brain to make up for the audio information you aren’t receiving automatically. That means you’re more likely to hear nothing but mumbles. And your brain will get tired even if it is able to piece together what was said.
The fatigue of a brain trying to constantly compensate, under typical circumstances, can cause loss of memory and impatience. Your brain will become even more fatigued when everyone is wearing a mask (but leave it on because it’s essential for community protection).
These concerns are being brought to your attention and hearing loss is being exposed by the pandemic. It’s not causing the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone undetected because hearing loss typically progresses quite slowly. In the early phases of hearing loss we usually don’t even detect it and often start raising the volume on our devices (you might not even notice this taking place).
That’s why it’s worthwhile to visit us on a regular basis. Because of the types of screenings we do, we can identify issues with your hearing early, often before you observe it yourself.
This is especially true for individuals currently having difficulty comprehending conversations through a mask. We can help you discover solutions to help you navigate a masked world. For example, hearing aids can help you recover a lot of your functional hearing range and can provide other significant benefits. Hearing aids will make it much easier to hear, and understand the voices behind the masks.
Keep Your Mask on
It’s important to remember to wear your mask even as the pandemic reveals hearing loss. 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. These efforts will ultimately enhance your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.