You wear your mask when you go out, sometimes more than one, and you typically don’t mind. Occasionally, though, you have a tough time hearing conversations. When you go to the supermarket or doctor’s appointment, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Quite often, you can’t make out anything that’s being said. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. However, the mask might 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 could be uncovering your hearing loss.
The Human Voice is Muffled by a Mask
Most quality masks are manufactured to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the instance of COVID-19, that’s pretty useful because the majority of evidence indicates that water droplets as a contributing factor (even though the science on the spread is still being done, so all findings are in early stages). Curtailing and stopping COVID-19, consequently, has been proven very practical by wearing masks.
Unfortunately, those same masks interfere with the movement of sound waves. Masks can slightly muffle the human voice. It’s not really a big concern for most individuals. But if you suffer from 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
But your difficulty understanding people wearing masks most likely isn’t simply because voices are muffled. There’s more to it than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, skilled at compensating for variations in sound quality.
Without your awareness, your brain uses contextual information to help you understand what’s being said, even if you are unable to hear it. Facial expressions, body language, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain naturally to help you compensate for what you can’t hear.
Many of these visual indicators are concealed when somebody is wearing a mask. The position of somebody’s mouth and the movements of their lips is hidden. You can’t even see if it’s a frown or smile behind the mask.
Your brain has a very hard time trying to interpret 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.
The fatigue of a brain trying to continually compensate, under normal circumstances, can cause loss of memory and impatience. With masks on, your brain will become even more tired (it’s worthwhile to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
The pandemic is uncovering hearing loss by bringing these issues to your attention. Hearing loss commonly develops slowly over time and may not have been detected in other circumstances. In the early phases of hearing loss we usually don’t even notice it and often start turning up the volume on our devices (you might not even recognize this happening).
That’s why it’s important to visit us regularly. We can identify early hearing loss, frequently before you even notice it, because of the screenings we do.
This is particularly true for anyone presently having trouble comprehending conversations through a mask. Together we can determine strategies to make you more comfortable conversing with people wearing a mask. Hearing aids, for example, can produce significant benefits, allowing you to regain much of your functional hearing range. 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 essential to remember you must keep your mask on. 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 leave your mask on, make an appointment with us, and use your hearing aids. These efforts will ultimately enhance your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.