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. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the doctor’s office or store. In some cases, it’s so bad you can barely perceive a single word. Naturally, they’re wearing masks, as well. Our face coverings aren’t completely at fault, though. The real issue may lie with your hearing. Or, to put it another way: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic may be revealing your hearing loss.
The Human Voice is Muffled by a Mask
Most good masks are designed to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the case of COVID-19, that’s rather useful because most evidence indicates that water droplets as a contributing factor (all these results, however, are still in early stages and studies are still being done). Limiting and preventing COVID-19, as a result, has been proven very effective by wearing masks.
However, those same masks hinder the projection of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice slightly. For the majority of individuals, it’s not a big deal. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it could be difficult for you to comprehend anything being said.
Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Harder
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 extent, adept at compensating for fluctuations in sound quality.
Without your awareness, your brain makes use of contextual information to help you understand what’s being said, even if you are unable to hear it. Body language, facial expressions, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain automatically to help you compensate for what you can’t hear.
Many of these visual clues are concealed when someone is wearing a mask. You can’t see the shape of somebody’s lips or the position of the mouth. You can’t even tell if it’s a smile or a frown behind the mask.
Your brain has a very hard time trying to interpret what’s being said without that extra visual information. So mumbling is probably all you will hear. Even if your brain can, somehow, make sense of what was said, your brain will get tired.
Under regular conditions, a constantly compensating brain can cause considerable mental fatigue, often resulting in irritability or memory loss. With masks in place, your brain will become even more exhausted (it’s worthwhile to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
The pandemic is exposing hearing loss by bringing these concerns to your attention. It Isn’t creating the condition in the first place, but it might have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss commonly progresses rather slowly. When your hearing first starts to decline, you might dismiss the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you may not even notice this happening).
This is why coming in to see us regularly is so important. Because of the types of screenings we perform, we can detect problems with your hearing early, frequently before you observe it yourself.
This is especially true for anybody currently having difficulty comprehending conversations through a mask. We can help you find methods to help you navigate a masked world. For instance, hearing aids can help you regain a lot of your functional hearing range and can provide other significant benefits. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and comprehend with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic reveals hearing loss, it’s crucial to remember you will need to keep your mask on. Masks are frequently mandated or required because they save lives. The last thing we should do, regardless of how tempting, is remove our mask.
So schedule an appointment with us, use your hearing aid, and keep your mask on. These efforts will inevitably improve your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.