Generally, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you go out. Occasionally, however, you have a tough time hearing interactions. When you go to the supermarket or doctor’s appointment, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Sometimes, you can’t make out anything that’s being said. Naturally, they’re wearing masks, as well. Our face coverings aren’t totally at fault, though. The real problem may lie with your hearing. Or, to say it another way: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic might be exposing your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
Most good masks are made to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. The majority of evidence points to airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the case of COVID-19 so that’s pretty useful (all these findings, though, are still in early stages and studies are still being conducted). This means that masks have shown to be very successful at limiting and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
But masks clearly can stop the movement of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice slightly. For most people, it’s not a problem. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it might be hard for you to comprehend anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Impairment
But your difficulty understanding people wearing masks probably isn’t simply because voices are muffled. There’s more to it than that. You see, the brain is really good at compensating for fluctuations in your hearing, up to a point.
Even if you can’t hear what’s going on, your brain will put the situation into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Your brain will synthesize things like facial expressions, body language, and especially lip movements to compensate for what it can’t hear.
Many of these visual clues are concealed when someone is wearing a mask. You can’t see the shape of somebody’s lips or the alignment of the mouth. You can’t even see if it’s a smile or a frown behind the mask.
Without that added input, it’s harder for your brain to make up for the audio clues 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.
The fatigue of a brain trying to continually compensate, under normal circumstances, can cause 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 concerns into focus. Hearing loss usually develops slowly over time and may not have been detected in different circumstances. When your hearing first starts to decline, you might disregard the symptoms and turn up the volume on the television (you might not even notice this occurring).
This is the reason why coming in to see us regularly is so important. 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 trouble understanding conversations through a mask. We can help you find methods to help you navigate a masked world. Hearing aids, for example, can produce considerable benefits, allowing you to regain a lot of your functional hearing range. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and understand with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
It’s important to remember to wear your mask even as the pandemic exposes hearing loss. Masks save lives and are frequently mandated. One of the issues with muffled voices is that people may be tempted to take off their masks, and that’s the last thing we should be doing.
So make an appointment with us, use your hearing aid, and keep your mask on. These efforts will inevitably enhance your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.