Typically, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you leave your house. Sometimes, however, you have a tough time hearing conversations. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the store or doctor’s office. Quite often, you can’t make out anything that’s being said. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. Our face coverings aren’t completely at fault, though. The real issue may lie with your hearing. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic might be revealing your hearing loss.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
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 (even though the science regarding the spread is still being done, so all results are in early stages). Limiting and preventing COVID-19, consequently, has been proven really practical by wearing masks.
Unfortunately, those same masks interfere with the projection of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice slightly. For the majority of people, it’s not a problem. But if you have hearing loss and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it might be difficult for you to hear anything being said.
Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Harder
The obstruction of sound waves likely isn’t the sole reason you’re having difficulty understanding someone wearing a mask. It’s more involved than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, skilled at compensating for fluctuations in sound quality.
Even if you’re unable to hear what’s happening, your brain will put the situation into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Your brain will synthesize physical clues like facial expressions, body language, and especially lip movements to compensate for what it can’t hear.
When somebody is wearing a mask, many of those linguistic cues are obscured. The position of somebody’s mouth and the movements of their lips is hidden. You don’t even know if they are smiling or frowning.
Without that additional input, it’s harder for your brain to compensate for the audio information you aren’t receiving 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 exhaustion of a brain trying to continually compensate, under normal circumstances, can lead to loss of memory and impatience. With masks on, your brain will become even more exhausted (it’s important to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
These concerns are being brought to your attention and hearing loss is being exposed by the pandemic. It’s not creating the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss usually progresses relatively slowly. When your hearing initially begins to diminish, you may dismiss the symptoms and turn up the volume on the television (you may not even realize you’re doing it).
This is why coming in to see us regularly is so essential. We can diagnose early hearing loss, often before you even notice it, because of the screenings we carry out.
This is particularly true for anybody presently having trouble understanding conversations through a mask. Together we can determine ways to make you more comfortable talking with people who are wearing a mask. For example, hearing aids can help you get back 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
It’s essential to remember to wear your mask even as the pandemic exposes hearing loss. Masks are frequently 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. Following these recommendations will keep you safe and enhance your quality of life.