You wear your mask when you go out, sometimes two of them, and you typically don’t mind. Sometimes, though, you have a tough time hearing interactions. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the store or doctor’s office. Sometimes, you can’t make out anything that’s being said. Obviously, they’re wearing masks, as well. Our face coverings aren’t really at fault, though. The real issue may lie with your hearing. Or, to put it another way: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic might be uncovering your hearing loss.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
Most quality masks are made to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. The majority of evidence indicates airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the case of COVID-19 so that’s pretty useful (although the science regarding the spread is still being carried out, so all results are in early stages). As a result, masks have proven quite effective at limiting and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
But masks clearly can stop the movement of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice somewhat. For most people, it’s not a big deal. But if you have hearing loss and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it might be difficult for you to comprehend anything being said.
Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Harder
The impediment of sound waves probably isn’t the sole reason you’re having difficulty understanding someone wearing a mask. It’s more involved than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, adept at compensating for variations in sound quality.
Without you recognizing it, your brain uses contextual information to help you comprehend what’s being said, even if you can’t hear it. Your brain will synthesize things like facial expressions, body language, and particularly lip movements to compensate for what it can’t hear.
Many of these visual indicators are concealed when someone is wearing a mask. You can’t see the shape of someone’s lips or the position of the mouth. You can’t even see if it’s a smile or a frown behind the mask.
Without that added information, it’s more difficult for your brain to make up for the audio information you aren’t receiving automatically. 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 regular circumstances, a continuously compensating brain can cause significant mental exhaustion, sometimes resulting in irritability or memory loss. With masks on, 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 to your attention and hearing loss is being exposed by the pandemic. It’s not causing the condition in the first place, but it might have otherwise gone undetected because hearing loss typically progresses quite slowly. In the early stages of hearing loss we usually don’t even notice it and often start turning up the volume on our devices (you might not even detect this occurring).
This is the reason why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so essential. We can diagnose early hearing loss, frequently before you even notice it, because of the screenings we do.
This is especially true for anyone presently having trouble understanding conversations through a mask. Together we can find strategies to make you more comfortable speaking with people who are wearing a mask. For instance, hearing aids can help you get back a lot of your functional hearing range and can supply other significant benefits. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and understand with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic reveals hearing loss, it’s essential to remember you will need to keep your mask on. Masks are frequently mandated or required because they save lives. One of the problems with muffled voices is that people may be tempted to remove their masks, and that’s the last thing we should do.
So schedule an appointment with us, use your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. Following these recommendations will keep you safe and enhance your quality of life.