Generally, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you go out. Occasionally, however, you have a hard time hearing interactions. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the store or doctor’s office. At times, it’s so bad you can scarcely grasp a single word. Of course, they’re wearing masks, too. However, the mask might not be the exclusive source of your trouble. It might 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 loss.
Speech is Muffled by a Mask
Most good masks are designed to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the instance of COVID-19, that’s pretty beneficial because most evidence points toward water droplets as a prominent factor (all these results, though, are still preliminary and research is still being conducted). This means that masks have proven very successful at limiting and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Unfortunately, those same masks interfere with the movement of sound waves. Masks can slightly muffle the human voice. It’s not really a big problem for most individuals. But if you have hearing loss and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it could be difficult for you to comprehend anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Loss
The impediment of sound waves probably isn’t the sole reason you’re having difficulty comprehending 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.
Even if you can’t hear what’s happening, your brain will put the situation into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Facial expressions, body language, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain naturally to help you compensate for what you’re unable to hear.
Many of these visual clues are hidden when somebody is wearing a mask. You can’t see the shape of somebody’s lips or the alignment of the mouth. You can’t even tell if it’s a frown or smile behind the mask.
Without that additional input, it’s harder for your brain to compensate for the audio information you aren’t getting automatically. So mumbling is probably all you will hear. And your brain will get tired even if it is able to piece together what was said.
Under regular conditions, a continuously compensating brain can cause considerable mental exhaustion, sometimes resulting in irritability or memory loss. With masks in place, your brain will become even more exhausted (it’s important to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
The pandemic is uncovering hearing loss by bringing these issues into focus. Hearing loss commonly develops gradually over time and might not have been detected in other circumstances. In the early stages of hearing loss we normally don’t even detect it and frequently start turning up the volume on our devices (you might not even recognize this taking place).
This is why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so important. Because of the types of screenings we do, we can detect issues with your hearing early, frequently before you observe it yourself.
If you are having a hard time understanding what people are saying when they’re wearing a mask, this is especially true. We can help you find methods to help you get through a masked world. Hearing aids, for instance, can produce significant benefits, allowing you to recover a lot 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 important to remember to keep your mask on even as the pandemic reveals hearing loss. Masks save lives and are frequently mandated. The last thing we should do, no matter how tempting, is take off our mask.
So make an appointment with us, use your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. Following these recommendations will keep you safe and improve your quality of life.