You wear your mask when you leave your house, sometimes more than one, and you generally don’t mind. 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. Sometimes, it’s so bad you can barely perceive a single word. Obviously, they’re wearing masks, too. Our face coverings aren’t totally at fault, however. It may be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic might be exposing your hearing loss.
Masks Muffle Speech
Most good masks are designed to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the case of COVID-19, that’s pretty useful because most evidence indicates that water droplets as a contributing factor (although the science on the spread is still being conducted, so all results are preliminary). Limiting and stopping COVID-19, consequently, has been shown to be very practical by wearing masks.
Unfortunately, those same masks impede the movement of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. For the majority of individuals, it’s not a problem. But if you suffer from hearing loss and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it might be hard for you to comprehend anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Loss
But your difficulty understanding people wearing masks most likely isn’t only because voices are muffled. It’s more involved than that. You see, the brain is very good at compensating for changes in your hearing, up to a point.
Without your awareness, your brain utilizes contextual information to help you comprehend what’s being said, even if you are unable to 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 clues are hidden when somebody is wearing a mask. 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.
Without that additional input, it’s harder for your brain to compensate for the audio information you aren’t getting automatically. 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.
Under regular conditions, a continuously compensating brain can cause significant mental exhaustion, often resulting in irritability or loss of memory. With masks in place, your brain will become even more exhausted (it’s important 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 develops slowly over time and may not have been detected in different circumstances. When your hearing initially begins to decline, you may ignore the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you may not even notice you’re doing it).
That’s why it’s worthwhile to visit us regularly. We can detect early hearing loss, often before you even notice it, because of the screenings we do.
This is especially true for anyone presently having difficulty understanding conversations through a mask. We can help you discover solutions to help you navigate a masked world. For example, hearing aids can help you regain a lot of your functional hearing range and can provide other significant benefits. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and understand with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic reveals hearing loss, it’s essential to remember you must keep your mask on. Masks are often mandated or required because they save lives. The last thing we should do, regardless of how tempting, is remove our mask.
So keep your mask on, make an appointment with us, and wear your hearing aids. These initiatives will ultimately enhance your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.