Typically, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you leave your house. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s difficult to hear what other people are saying. When you go to the supermarket or doctor’s appointment, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Sometimes, you can’t make out anything that’s being said. Of course, they’re wearing masks, as well. Our face coverings aren’t totally at fault, however. The real problem may be your hearing. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic could be uncovering your hearing impairment.
Speech is Muffled by a Mask
Most quality masks are made to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. Most evidence indicates airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the instance of COVID-19 so that’s pretty useful (even though the science regarding the spread is still being done, so all findings are preliminary). Limiting and preventing COVID-19, consequently, has been proven very practical by wearing masks.
However, those same masks interfere with the movement of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice slightly. It’s not really much of a problem for most people. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it could be hard for you to understand anything being said.
Hearing Impairment Makes Your Brain Work Overtime
But your difficulty understanding people wearing masks most likely isn’t only because voices are muffled. It’s more involved than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some degree, skilled at compensating for fluctuations in sound quality.
Without you recognizing it, your brain makes use of contextual information to help you comprehend what’s being said, even if you can’t hear it. Body language, facial expressions, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain naturally to help you compensate for what you’re unable to hear.
Many of these visual indicators are concealed when someone is wearing a mask. The position of somebody’s mouth and the movements of their lips is unseen. You can’t even see if it’s a smile or a frown behind the mask.
Your brain has a really hard time trying to translate what’s being said without that added visual information. 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.
The exhaustion of a brain trying to continually compensate, under typical circumstances, can lead to memory loss and irritability. With masks in place, your brain will become even more tired (it’s worthwhile to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
These concerns are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being uncovered by the pandemic. It Isn’t creating the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss commonly progresses rather slowly. When your hearing initially begins to decline, you might dismiss the symptoms and turn up the volume on the television (maybe you don’t even know you’re doing it).
This is the reason why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so important. Because of the types of screenings we carry out, we can detect problems with your hearing early, often before you observe it yourself.
This is particularly 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 produce considerable benefits, allowing you to regain a lot of your functional hearing range. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and understand with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
It’s essential to remember to wear your mask even as the pandemic reveals 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, wear your hearing aid, and keep your mask on. These initiatives will ultimately enhance your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.