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 conversations. When you go to the grocery store or visit your doctor’s office, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Quite often, you can’t understand anything that’s being said. They’re also wearing masks, of course. However, the mask might not be the exclusive source of your difficulty. It might be your hearing that’s the problem. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic may be exposing 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 beneficial because most evidence indicates that water droplets as a prominent factor (although the science on the spread is still being done, so all findings are in early stages). Curtailing and stopping COVID-19, as a result, has been shown to be very effective by wearing masks.
But masks clearly can stop the movement of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. It’s not really a big problem for most individuals. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it may be hard for you to comprehend anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Impairment
The obstruction of sound waves probably isn’t the sole reason you’re having difficulty comprehending someone wearing a mask. There’s more to it than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some degree, adept at compensating for variations in sound quality.
Without your awareness, your brain uses contextual information to help you comprehend what’s being said, even if you are unable to hear it. Your brain will synthesize things like facial expressions, body language, and particularly lip movements to compensate for anything it can’t hear.
When somebody is wearing a mask, many of those visual cues are obscured. You can’t see the shape of somebody’s lips or the position of the mouth. You don’t even know if they are smiling or frowning.
Your brain has a very hard time attempting to interpret what’s being said without that extra 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 regular circumstances, a continually compensating brain can cause significant mental exhaustion, often resulting in irritability or loss of memory. Your brain will become even more fatigued when everyone is wearing a mask (but leave it on because it’s important for community protection).
These issues are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being exposed by the pandemic. It Isn’t creating the condition in the first place, but it might have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss commonly advances relatively slowly. In the early phases of hearing loss we normally don’t even detect it and frequently start turning up the volume on our devices (you might not even notice this happening).
That’s why it’s important to visit us on a regular basis. We can diagnose early hearing loss, often before you even notice it, because of the screenings we do.
This is especially true for anybody currently having difficulty comprehending conversations through a mask. We can help you find solutions to help you navigate a masked world. Hearing aids, for instance, can produce considerable benefits, allowing you to recover much of your functional hearing range. Hearing aids will make it much easier to hear, and understand the voices behind the masks.
Keep Your Mask on
It’s essential to remember to keep your mask on even as the pandemic reveals hearing loss. Masks are often mandated or required because they save lives. 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 make an appointment with us, wear your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. Following these recommendations will keep you safe and enhance your quality of life.