Typically, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you leave your house. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s difficult to hear what other people are saying. When you go to the supermarket or doctor’s appointment, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Quite often, you can’t understand anything that’s being said. Of course, they’re wearing masks, too. Our face coverings aren’t really at fault, however. It might be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to put it another way: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic may 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. 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 done). Limiting and preventing COVID-19, consequently, has been proven very effective by wearing masks.
Unfortunately, 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 suddenly surround you, it could be hard for you to make out anything being said.
Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Overtime
The impediment of sound waves probably isn’t the only reason you’re having difficulty understanding someone wearing a mask. There’s more to it than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, skilled at compensating for variations in sound quality.
Without you recognizing it, your brain utilizes contextual information to help you understand 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.
Many of these visual hints are concealed when someone is wearing a mask. The position of somebody’s mouth and the movements of their lips is unseen. You can’t even tell if it’s a frown or smile behind the mask.
Your brain has a really hard time trying to interpret what’s being said without that added visual information. So mumbling is probably all you will hear. Even if your brain can, somehow, make sense of what was said, your brain will get tired.
The exhaustion of a brain trying to continuously compensate, under typical circumstances, can cause memory loss and irritability. With masks in place, your brain will become even more fatigued (it’s important to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
These concerns are being brought to your attention and hearing loss is being uncovered by the pandemic. It’s not causing the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss commonly progresses rather slowly. When your hearing first starts to decline, you may disregard the symptoms and turn up the volume on the television (you may not even realize you’re doing it).
This is why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so essential. Because of the types of screenings we perform, we can diagnose problems with your hearing early, often before you observe it yourself.
This is particularly true for anyone currently having trouble understanding conversations through a mask. We can help you discover strategies to help you get through a masked world. Hearing aids, for example, can offer considerable benefits, allowing you to regain a lot of your functional hearing range. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and comprehend 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. One of the problems with muffled voices is that people might be tempted to take off their masks, and that’s the last thing we should be doing.
So keep your mask on, make an appointment with us, and use your hearing aids. These initiatives will inevitably enhance your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.