You wear your mask when you go out, sometimes two of them, and you generally don’t mind. 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. Quite often, you can’t make out anything that’s being said. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. Our face coverings aren’t completely at fault, though. The real issue could be your hearing. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic might be uncovering your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle Speech
Most quality masks are made to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. Most evidence points to airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the case of COVID-19 so that’s pretty useful (all these findings, though, are still in early stages and studies are still being done). This means that masks have proven very effective at curtailing and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Unfortunately, those same masks impede the projection of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. For most people, it’s not a big deal. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it might be difficult for you to make out anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Loss
But your difficulty understanding people wearing masks most likely isn’t simply because voices are muffled. It’s more involved than that. You see, the brain is extremely good at compensating for fluctuations in your hearing, up to a point.
Even if you’re unable to hear what’s going on, your brain will put the event into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Your brain will synthesize things like facial expressions, body language, and particularly lip movements to compensate for what it can’t hear.
When someone is wearing a mask, many of those visual cues are hidden. You can’t see the shape of somebody’s lips or the alignment of the mouth. You can’t even see if it’s a smile or a frown behind the mask.
Without that additional information, it’s harder for your brain to compensate for the audio information you aren’t receiving automatically. 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 fatigue of a brain trying to constantly compensate, under typical circumstances, can lead to loss of memory and impatience. Your brain will become even more exhausted when everyone is wearing a mask (but keep it on because it’s essential for community protection).
The pandemic is uncovering hearing loss by bringing these issues into focus. Hearing loss normally develops slowly over time and might not have been recognized in different circumstances. When your hearing first starts to diminish, you may dismiss the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you may not even detect this occurring).
This is why coming in to see us regularly is so important. Because of the types of screenings we perform, we can diagnose issues with your hearing early, frequently before you observe it yourself.
This is especially true for anyone presently having difficulty comprehending conversations through a mask. We can help you discover methods to help you get through a masked world. For instance, 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
As the pandemic reveals hearing loss, it’s important to remember you will need to keep your mask on. Masks are often mandated or required because they save lives. One of the problems with muffled voices is that individuals may be tempted to remove their masks, and that’s the last thing we should do.
So leave your mask on, make an appointment with us, and wear your hearing aids. Sticking with these recommendations will keep you safe and enhance your quality of life.