Typically, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you leave your house. Occasionally, however, you have a hard time hearing interactions. When you go to the supermarket or visit your doctor’s office, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Quite often, you can’t make out anything that’s being said. Naturally, they’re wearing masks, too. Our face coverings aren’t completely at fault, though. It may be your hearing that’s the problem. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic may be uncovering your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle Speech
Most quality masks are made to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the case of COVID-19, that’s rather beneficial because the majority of evidence points toward water droplets as a prominent factor (although the science on the spread is still being carried out, so all findings are in early stages). This means that masks have shown to be quite effective at limiting and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
But masks obviously can block the projection of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice somewhat. For the majority of people, 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 hard for you to understand anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Impairment
The impediment of sound waves likely isn’t the only 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 uses contextual information to help you understand 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 anything it can’t hear.
Many of these visual indicators are concealed when somebody is wearing a mask. You can’t see the shape of someone’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. And your brain will get tired even if it is able to piece together what was said.
Under normal conditions, a constantly compensating brain can cause significant mental exhaustion, often resulting in irritability or loss of memory. Your brain will become even more tired when everyone is wearing a mask (but leave it on because it’s essential for community protection).
These concerns are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being exposed by the pandemic. It Isn’t causing the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss typically advances rather slowly. In the early stages of hearing loss we normally don’t even notice it and frequently start raising the volume on our devices (you may not even notice you’re doing it).
That’s why it’s worthwhile to visit us on a regular basis. Because of the types of screenings we carry out, we can identify problems with your hearing early, frequently before you notice it yourself.
If you are having a hard time understanding what people are saying when they’re wearing a mask, this is particularly true. We can help you find strategies to help you get through a masked world. Hearing aids, for instance, can produce substantial benefits, allowing you to regain a lot of your functional hearing range. Hearing aids will make it a great deal easier to hear, and comprehend the voices behind the masks.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic exposes hearing loss, it’s essential to remember you must keep your mask on. Masks save lives and are frequently mandated. One of the issues with muffled voices is that individuals might be tempted to remove their masks, and that’s the last thing we should do.
So schedule an appointment with us, wear your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. Sticking with these suggestions will keep you safe and improve your quality of life.