Typically, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you leave your house. Sometimes, though, you have a hard time hearing interactions. When you go to the supermarket or doctor’s appointment, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. At times, it’s so bad you can hardly grasp a single word. They’re also wearing masks, of course. Our face coverings aren’t totally at fault, however. It may be your hearing that’s the problem. Or, to say it another way: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic could be uncovering your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
Most good 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 instance of COVID-19 so that’s pretty useful (although the science regarding the spread is still being done, so all results are preliminary). As a result, masks have shown to be quite successful at limiting and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
But masks obviously can block the movement of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice slightly. It’s not really much of a 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 comprehend anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Impairment
The impediment of sound waves probably isn’t the sole reason you’re having trouble understanding someone wearing a mask. It’s more involved than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some degree, adept at compensating for fluctuations 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 anything it can’t hear.
Many of these visual clues are hidden when somebody is wearing a mask. The position of someone’s mouth and the motion of their lips is hidden. 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 compensate for the audio clues you aren’t getting automatically. That means you’re more likely to hear nothing but mumbles. 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 normal circumstances, can result in memory loss and irritability. Your brain will become even more exhausted when everybody is wearing a mask (but keep it on because it’s important for community protection).
These concerns are being brought to your attention and hearing loss is being revealed by the pandemic. It’s not creating the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone undetected because hearing loss commonly advances quite slowly. In the early stages of hearing loss we typically don’t even notice it and often start raising the volume on our devices (you may not even realize you’re doing it).
That’s why it’s worthwhile to visit us on a regular basis. Because of the kinds of screenings we do, we can diagnose issues with your hearing early, frequently before you notice it yourself.
This is particularly true for anybody presently having difficulty understanding conversations through a mask. We can help you discover methods to help you navigate a masked world. For instance, hearing aids can help you regain 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
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. The last thing we should do, regardless of how tempting, is take off our mask.
So leave your mask on, schedule an appointment with us, and wear your hearing aids. These initiatives will inevitably enhance your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.