You wear your mask when you go out, sometimes two of them, and you typically don’t mind. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s hard 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. Sometimes, you can’t make out anything that’s being said. They’re also wearing masks, of course. Our face coverings aren’t really at fault, though. It might be your hearing that’s the problem. Or, to say it another way: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic could be revealing your hearing loss.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
Most good masks are manufactured to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the instance of COVID-19, that’s pretty useful because most evidence indicates that water droplets as a contributing factor (all these results, however, are still preliminary and studies are still being done). This means that masks have proven very effective at curtailing and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
But masks clearly can stop the projection of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice somewhat. For most people, it’s not a big deal. But if hearing loss is a problem for you and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it may be difficult for you to make out anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Loss
The obstruction of sound waves likely isn’t the sole reason you’re having trouble comprehending someone wearing a mask. There’s more to it than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, adept at compensating for fluctuations in sound quality.
Even if you can’t hear what’s happening, your brain will put the event into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Facial expressions, body language, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain naturally to help you compensate for what you can’t hear.
Many of these visual clues are hidden when somebody is wearing a mask. You can’t see the shape of somebody’s lips or the position of the mouth. You don’t even know if they are smiling or frowning.
Without that added information, it’s more difficult for your brain to compensate for the audio clues 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.
Under regular conditions, a constantly compensating brain can cause considerable mental exhaustion, often resulting in impatience or loss of memory. Your brain will become even more fatigued when everyone is wearing a mask (but keep it on because it’s important for community protection).
These issues are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being uncovered by the pandemic. Hearing loss commonly advances slowly over time and might not have been detected in other circumstances. In the early stages of hearing loss we typically don’t even detect it and often start turning up the volume on our devices (you may not even recognize this happening).
That’s why it’s essential to visit us on a regular basis. We can diagnose early hearing loss, often before you even notice it, because of the screenings we carry out.
This is especially true for anyone presently having difficulty understanding conversations through a mask. Together we can determine strategies to make you more comfortable talking with people wearing a mask. Hearing aids, for instance, can provide significant benefits, allowing you to regain much of your functional hearing range. 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 exposes hearing loss, it’s crucial to remember you must keep your mask on. Masks are often mandated or required because they save lives. The last thing we should do, no matter how tempting, is remove our mask.
So schedule an appointment with us, use your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. These initiatives will inevitably enhance your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.