You wear your mask when you leave your house, sometimes more than one, and you generally don’t mind. Sometimes, though, you have a hard time hearing conversations. When you go to the grocery store or doctor’s appointment, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. At times, it’s so bad you can scarcely grasp a single word. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. However, the mask may not be the exclusive source of your trouble. The real problem could lie with your hearing. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic might be uncovering your hearing loss.
The Human Voice is Muffled by a Mask
Most quality masks are designed to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. Most evidence points to airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the instance of COVID-19 so that’s pretty useful (although the science regarding the spread is still being conducted, so all findings are preliminary). Limiting and stopping COVID-19, as a result, has been proven very practical by wearing masks.
But masks obviously can block the movement of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. For most individuals, it’s not a problem. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it could be hard for you to hear anything being said.
Hearing Impairment Makes Your Brain Work Overtime
The obstruction of sound waves likely isn’t the only reason you’re having difficulty understanding someone wearing a mask. It’s more involved than that. You see, the brain is very good at compensating for fluctuations in your hearing, up to a point.
Without you recognizing it, your brain uses 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 anything it can’t hear.
When someone is wearing a mask, many of those linguistic cues are hidden. 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 smile or a frown behind the mask.
Without that added input, it’s more difficult for your brain to make up for the audio clues you aren’t receiving 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 constantly compensating brain can cause significant mental fatigue, sometimes resulting in irritability or memory loss. Your brain will become even more tired when everybody is wearing a mask (but leave it on because it’s important for community protection).
These issues are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being revealed by the pandemic. It’s not causing the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss usually advances relatively slowly. In the early phases of hearing loss we typically don’t even notice it and often start turning up the volume on our devices (maybe you don’t even notice you’re doing it).
That’s why it’s worthwhile to visit us regularly. We can detect early hearing loss, frequently before you even notice it, because of the screenings we perform.
This is particularly true for people currently having difficulty understanding conversations through a mask. We can help you discover strategies to help you navigate a masked world. For example, hearing aids can help you get back a lot of your functional hearing range and can supply other significant benefits. Hearing aids will make it much easier to hear, and understand the voices behind the masks.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic reveals hearing loss, it’s crucial to remember you must keep your mask on. Masks are often mandated or required because they save lives. One of the issues with muffled voices is that individuals may be tempted to take off their masks, and that’s the last thing we should do.
So schedule an appointment with us, wear your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. These efforts will ultimately improve your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.