You wear your mask when you go out, sometimes two of them, and you generally don’t mind. Occasionally, however, you have a tough time hearing conversations. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the doctor’s office or store. Sometimes, it’s so bad you can barely perceive a single word. They’re also wearing masks, of course. However, the mask may not be the only source of your difficulty. It may be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic could be uncovering your hearing loss.
Masks Muffle Speech
Most good masks are made to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the instance of COVID-19, that’s pretty beneficial because most evidence indicates that water droplets as a contributing factor (even though the science regarding the spread is still being carried out, so all results are in early stages). Limiting and stopping COVID-19, as a result, has been shown to be really practical by wearing masks.
But masks obviously can stop the projection of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. It’s not really much of a concern for most people. But if you suffer from hearing loss and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it could be hard for you to make out anything being said.
Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Harder
The obstruction of sound waves probably isn’t the sole reason you’re having difficulty comprehending someone wearing a mask. It’s more involved than that. You see, the brain is really good at compensating for changes in your hearing, up to a point.
Even if you’re unable to hear what’s happening, your brain will put the event into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Your brain will synthesize physical clues like facial expressions, body language, and particularly lip movements to compensate for anything it can’t hear.
When somebody is wearing a mask, many of those linguistic cues are concealed. The position of somebody’s mouth and the motion of their lips is hidden. You don’t even know if they are smiling or frowning.
Without that additional input, it’s more difficult for your brain to make up for the audio information you aren’t receiving automatically. That means you’re more likely to hear nothing but mumbles. Even if your brain can, somehow, make sense of what was said, your brain will get tired.
Under normal circumstances, a continuously compensating brain can cause considerable mental exhaustion, sometimes resulting in impatience or memory loss. Your brain will become even more fatigued when everybody is wearing a mask (but keep it on because it’s important for community protection).
These concerns are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being exposed by the pandemic. It Isn’t creating the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss commonly advances rather slowly. When your hearing first starts to decline, you might dismiss the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you may not even notice this occurring).
This is the reason why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so essential. Because of the types of screenings we do, we can diagnose issues with your hearing early, frequently before you notice it yourself.
If you are having a hard time understanding what people are saying when they’re wearing a mask, this is especially true. Together we can determine strategies to make you more comfortable talking with people wearing a mask. For instance, hearing aids can help you regain a lot of your functional hearing range and can supply other significant benefits. Hearing aids will make it a great deal 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 will need to keep your mask on. Masks are frequently 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 leave your mask on, make an appointment with us, and use your hearing aids. Following these recommendations will keep you safe and improve your quality of life.