Generally, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you go out. At times, though, you have a tough time hearing conversations. When you go to the supermarket or doctor’s appointment, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. In some cases, it’s so bad you can barely understand a single word. Naturally, they’re wearing masks, as well. Our face coverings aren’t really at fault, though. It might be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to put it another way: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic could be exposing your hearing loss.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
Most quality masks are manufactured to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. The majority of evidence indicates airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the case of COVID-19 so that’s pretty useful (all these findings, however, are still preliminary and studies are still being done). Curtailing and preventing COVID-19, consequently, has been proven very practical by wearing masks.
But masks obviously can stop the projection of sound waves. Masks can slightly muffle the human voice. For most people, it’s not a big deal. But if you have hearing loss and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it could be hard for you to hear anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Loss
But your difficulty understanding people wearing masks probably isn’t simply because voices are muffled. It’s more involved than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some degree, skilled at compensating for variations in sound quality.
Without you recognizing it, your brain uses contextual information to help you understand what’s being said, even if you are unable to hear it. 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 obscured. 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 added information, it’s more difficult for your brain to make up 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.
Under normal conditions, a constantly compensating brain can cause significant mental fatigue, sometimes resulting in irritability or memory loss. Your brain will become even more exhausted when everyone is wearing a mask (but leave it on because it’s essential for community protection).
The pandemic is exposing hearing loss by bringing these concerns into focus. Hearing loss commonly advances slowly over time and may not have been detected in different circumstances. When your hearing first starts to diminish, you may ignore the symptoms and turn up the volume on the television (you may not even notice this occurring).
This is why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so essential. We can detect early hearing loss, frequently before you even notice it, because of the screenings we do.
This is particularly true for anyone presently having difficulty comprehending conversations through a mask. We can help you find strategies to help you navigate a masked world. Hearing aids, for instance, can offer significant benefits, allowing you to regain a lot of your functional hearing range. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and comprehend with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic exposes hearing loss, it’s essential to remember you must keep your mask on. Masks save lives and are often mandated. One of the problems with muffled voices is that people might be tempted to take off their masks, and that’s the last thing we should be doing.
So keep your mask on, make an appointment with us, and use your hearing aids. These initiatives will inevitably enhance your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.