Typically, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you leave your house. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s tough to hear what other people are saying. When you go to the supermarket or visit your doctor’s office, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. At times, it’s so bad you can scarcely grasp a single word. Naturally, they’re wearing masks, as well. However, the mask may not be the only source of your difficulty. It might be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to put it another way: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic could be uncovering your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle Speech
Most good masks are designed to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the case of COVID-19, that’s pretty beneficial because most evidence points toward water droplets as a contributing factor (all these results, however, are still in early stages and research is still being conducted). As a result, masks have shown to be very successful at limiting and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Unfortunately, those same masks impede the movement of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. It’s not really much of a problem for most people. But if you have hearing loss and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it could be hard for you to hear anything being said.
Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Overtime
The impediment of sound waves probably isn’t the sole reason you’re having trouble comprehending 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 understand what’s being said, even if you can’t hear it. Facial expressions, body language, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain automatically to help you compensate for what you’re unable to hear.
When someone is wearing a mask, many of those linguistic cues are hidden. You can’t see the shape of someone’s lips or the alignment of the mouth. You don’t even know if they are smiling or frowning.
Without that additional information, it’s harder for your brain to make up for the audio information 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.
The fatigue of a brain trying to continuously compensate, under normal circumstances, can result in loss of memory and irritability. With masks on, your brain will become even more tired (it’s important to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
The pandemic is exposing hearing loss by bringing these issues to your attention. It Isn’t causing the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss usually advances relatively slowly. When your hearing first starts to decline, you may ignore the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (maybe you don’t even realize you’re doing it).
That’s why it’s important to visit us on a regular basis. Because of the variety of screenings we do, we can diagnose issues with your hearing early, frequently before you notice it yourself.
This is especially true for anyone presently having difficulty understanding conversations through a mask. We can help you discover strategies to help you get through a masked world. Hearing aids, for instance, can provide considerable benefits, allowing you to recover much of your functional hearing range. 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 important to remember you must keep your mask on. Masks save lives and are frequently mandated. The last thing we should do, no matter how tempting, is remove our mask.
So make an appointment with us, wear your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. Following these suggestions will keep you safe and enhance your quality of life.