You wear your mask when you leave your house, sometimes more than one, and you generally don’t mind. 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. In some cases, it’s so bad you can hardly perceive a single word. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. However, the mask may not be the exclusive source of your difficulty. It might be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic may be uncovering your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
Most good masks are made to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. Most evidence indicates airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the case of COVID-19 so that’s very useful (all these findings, however, are still preliminary and studies are still being conducted). As a result, masks have shown to be quite effective at curtailing and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Unfortunately, those same masks hinder the movement of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. It’s not really a big concern for most individuals. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it might be difficult for you to hear anything being said.
Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Overtime
The impediment of sound waves likely isn’t the sole reason you’re having trouble understanding someone wearing a mask. It’s more involved than that. You see, the brain is extremely good at compensating for changes in your hearing, up to a point.
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. 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 somebody is wearing a mask, many of those linguistic cues are obscured. The position of somebody’s mouth and the motion of their lips is hidden. You can’t even see if it’s a frown or smile behind the mask.
Without that additional information, 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.
Under regular circumstances, a continually compensating brain can cause significant mental exhaustion, often resulting in irritability or loss of memory. With masks in place, your brain will become even more tired (it’s important to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
These issues are being brought to your attention and hearing loss is being uncovered by the pandemic. Hearing loss commonly advances gradually over time and may not have been noticed in different circumstances. When your hearing initially begins to decline, you might disregard the symptoms and turn up 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 perform, we can diagnose issues with your hearing early, frequently before you observe it yourself.
This is particularly true for people presently having trouble understanding conversations through a mask. Together we can find strategies 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 provide 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
As the pandemic exposes hearing loss, it’s important to remember you must keep your mask on. Masks save lives and are often mandated. The last thing we should do, no matter how tempting, is take off our mask.
So schedule an appointment with us, use your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. These efforts will ultimately enhance your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.