Generally, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you go out. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s tough to hear what other people are saying. 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. Obviously, they’re wearing masks, too. Our face coverings aren’t really at fault, though. It might be your hearing that’s the problem. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic might be revealing your hearing loss.
Masks Muffle Speech
Most good masks are designed to stop 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 very useful (all these findings, however, are still in early stages and studies are still being carried out). Curtailing and stopping COVID-19, as a result, has been proven very effective by wearing masks.
Unfortunately, those same masks hinder the movement of sound waves. The human voice will be somewhat muffled by a mask. For the majority of people, it’s not a problem. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it might be hard for you to comprehend anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Impairment
The obstruction of sound waves probably isn’t the only reason you’re having difficulty understanding 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 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 naturally to help you compensate for what you’re unable to hear.
When someone is wearing a mask, many of those visual cues are hidden. You can’t see the shape of someone’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 difficult time trying to interpret 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.
Under regular conditions, a continually compensating brain can cause significant mental fatigue, sometimes resulting in impatience or memory loss. With masks in place, your brain will become even more exhausted (it’s worthwhile to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
The pandemic is revealing hearing loss by bringing these concerns to your attention. Hearing loss usually advances slowly over time and may not have been recognized in different circumstances. In the early phases of hearing loss we usually don’t even detect it and often start turning up the volume on our devices (you may 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 carry out, we can diagnose problems with your hearing early, often before you observe it yourself.
This is particularly true for anybody presently having difficulty comprehending conversations through a mask. Together we can determine ways to make you more comfortable speaking with people wearing a mask. For instance, hearing aids can help you get back a lot of your functional hearing range and can provide other significant benefits. Hearing aids will make it much easier to hear, and comprehend the voices behind the masks.
Keep Your Mask on
It’s essential to remember to wear your mask even as the pandemic reveals hearing loss. Masks save lives and are frequently mandated. One of the issues with muffled voices is that people may be tempted to take off their masks, and that’s the last thing we should be doing.
So schedule 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.