Generally, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you go out. Sometimes, though, you have a hard time hearing interactions. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the doctor’s office or store. Sometimes, it’s so bad you can barely grasp a single word. Naturally, they’re wearing masks, too. However, the mask might not be the only source of your trouble. The real problem may be your hearing. Or, to put it another way: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic may be revealing your hearing loss.
Masks Muffle Speech
Most quality masks are manufactured to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the instance of COVID-19, that’s rather beneficial because most evidence points toward water droplets as a prominent factor (all these results, however, are still preliminary and studies are still being done). As a result, masks have shown to be quite effective at curtailing and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
But masks clearly can block the projection of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. For the majority of people, it’s not a problem. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it may be difficult for you to comprehend anything being said.
Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Overtime
The obstruction of sound waves likely isn’t the sole reason you’re having difficulty comprehending someone wearing a mask. It’s more involved than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some degree, skilled at compensating for variations 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. Body language, facial expressions, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain automatically to help you compensate for what you’re unable to hear.
Many of these visual clues are concealed when somebody is wearing a mask. You can’t see the shape of somebody’s lips or the alignment of the mouth. You can’t even see if it’s a smile or a frown behind the mask.
Your brain has a really hard time attempting to translate what’s being said without that added visual information. That means you’re more likely to hear nothing but mumbles. Even if your brain can, somehow, make sense of what was said, your brain will get tired.
Under normal conditions, a continually compensating brain can cause considerable mental fatigue, often resulting in impatience or memory loss. Your brain will become even more exhausted when everyone is wearing a mask (but keep it on because it’s important for community protection).
These concerns are being brought to your attention and hearing loss is being revealed by the pandemic. It’s not causing the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss usually progresses relatively slowly. In the early stages of hearing loss we usually don’t even notice it and often start raising the volume on our devices (you might not even detect this occurring).
That’s why it’s worthwhile to visit us on a regular basis. We can identify early hearing loss, frequently before you even notice it, because of the screenings we carry out.
If you are having a difficult time hearing what people are saying when they are wearing a mask, this is particularly true. Together we can find strategies to make you more comfortable talking with people wearing a mask. Hearing aids, for example, can provide considerable benefits, allowing you to regain a lot of your functional hearing range. Hearing aids will make it a lot 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 will need to keep your mask on. Masks save lives and are often mandated. 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. Sticking with these recommendations will keep you safe and improve your quality of life.