You wear your mask when you leave your house, sometimes more than one, and you generally don’t mind. Occasionally, though, you have a hard time hearing conversations. When you go to the supermarket or visit your doctor’s office, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Sometimes, you can’t understand anything that’s being said. Of course, they’re wearing masks, too. However, the mask might not be the only source of your trouble. It might be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it another way: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic might be revealing your hearing loss.
The Human Voice is Muffled by a Mask
Most quality masks are designed to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the case of COVID-19, that’s rather useful because the majority of evidence points toward water droplets as a prominent factor (all these results, however, are still preliminary and research is still being done). Curtailing and stopping COVID-19, consequently, has been proven really effective by wearing masks.
But masks clearly can block the movement 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 suddenly surround you, it might be difficult for you to hear anything being said.
Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Harder
The obstruction of sound waves likely isn’t the only 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, skilled at compensating for variations in sound quality.
Without you recognizing it, your brain utilizes contextual information to help you comprehend what’s being said, even if you can’t 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.
When someone is wearing a mask, many of those linguistic cues are obscured. The position of someone’s mouth and the movements of their lips is unseen. You don’t even know if they are smiling or frowning.
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.
The fatigue of a brain trying to constantly compensate, under typical circumstances, can lead to memory loss and impatience. Your brain will become even more tired when everyone is wearing a mask (but leave it on because it’s essential for community protection).
The pandemic is exposing hearing loss by bringing these issues to your attention. Hearing loss typically develops gradually over time and might not have been detected in different circumstances. In the early phases of hearing loss we typically don’t even detect it and often start raising the volume on our devices (maybe you don’t even notice you’re doing it).
That’s why it’s worthwhile to visit us on a regular basis. We can detect early hearing loss, frequently before you even notice it, because of the screenings we do.
This is particularly true for anyone currently having difficulty comprehending conversations through a mask. Together we can find ways to make you more comfortable conversing with people who are wearing a mask. For instance, hearing aids can help you recover a lot of your functional hearing range and can provide 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 save lives and are frequently mandated. The last thing we should do, regardless of how tempting, is remove our mask.
So schedule an appointment with us, wear your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. Following these guidelines will keep you safe and improve your quality of life.