You wear your mask when you go out, sometimes more than one, and you generally don’t mind. Sometimes, though, you have a tough time hearing interactions. When you go to the grocery store or visit your doctor’s office, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Sometimes, you can’t make out anything that’s being said. Naturally, they’re wearing masks, as well. However, the mask may not be the exclusive source of your difficulty. The real issue may lie with your hearing. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic might be revealing your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
Most quality masks are designed 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 pretty useful (all these results, though, are still in early stages and studies are still being carried out). As a result, masks have proven very successful at curtailing and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
However, those same masks interfere with the movement of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. It’s not really a big problem for most people. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it might be hard for you to hear anything being said.
Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Overtime
The obstruction of sound waves probably isn’t the only reason you’re having trouble understanding someone wearing a mask. There’s more going on than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, adept at compensating for variations in sound quality.
Even if you can’t hear what’s going on, your brain will put the situation 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.
Many of these visual indicators are concealed when someone is wearing a mask. You can’t see the shape of somebody’s lips or the position of the mouth. You can’t even tell if it’s a frown or smile behind the mask.
Your brain has a very hard time attempting to translate what’s being said without that added 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.
The exhaustion of a brain trying to continuously compensate, under typical circumstances, can cause loss of memory and impatience. Your brain will become even more exhausted when everybody is wearing a mask (but leave it on because it’s important for community protection).
These concerns are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being uncovered by the pandemic. Hearing loss usually develops gradually over time and might not have been detected in other circumstances. In the early phases of hearing loss we usually don’t even detect it and often start raising the volume on our devices (you may not even know you’re doing it).
This is the reason why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so important. We can identify early hearing loss, often before you even notice it, because of the screenings we carry out.
This is particularly true for anybody currently having trouble comprehending conversations through a mask. Together we can determine ways to make you more comfortable talking with people who are wearing a mask. For example, 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
It’s essential to remember to wear your mask even as the pandemic reveals hearing loss. Masks are frequently mandated or required because they save lives. The last thing we should do, regardless of how tempting, is take off our mask.
So make an appointment with us, wear your hearing aid, and keep your mask on. Sticking with these suggestions will keep you safe and enhance your quality of life.