Typically, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you leave your house. Occasionally, though, 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. At times, it’s so bad you can scarcely perceive a single word. They’re also wearing masks, of course. Our face coverings aren’t totally at fault, however. It may be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic may be exposing your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle Speech
Most quality masks are manufactured to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the case of COVID-19, that’s rather useful because most evidence indicates that water droplets as a prominent factor (all these results, though, are still preliminary and research is still being conducted). As a result, masks have shown to be quite effective at curtailing and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
However, those same masks hinder the movement of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice somewhat. For most 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 hard for you to hear anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Impairment
The obstruction of sound waves probably isn’t the only reason you’re having trouble comprehending someone wearing a mask. There’s more going on than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, adept at compensating for fluctuations in sound quality.
Even if you’re unable to hear what’s going on, your brain will put the event 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 hints are hidden 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 tell if it’s a smile or a frown behind the mask.
Without that additional input, it’s more difficult for your brain to compensate for the audio information you aren’t getting automatically. 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 regular conditions, a constantly compensating brain can cause significant mental exhaustion, often resulting in impatience or memory loss. With masks on, your brain will become even more exhausted (it’s important to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
The pandemic is exposing hearing loss by bringing these concerns into focus. Hearing loss typically advances slowly over time and might not have been detected in different circumstances. When your hearing first starts to diminish, you might disregard the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (maybe you don’t even know you’re doing it).
This is why coming in to see us regularly is so important. Because of the kinds of screenings we perform, we can diagnose problems with your hearing early, often before you notice it yourself.
This is especially true for individuals currently having difficulty understanding conversations through a mask. We can help you discover strategies to help you navigate a masked world. Hearing aids, for instance, can offer 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
As the pandemic reveals hearing loss, it’s essential to remember you will need to keep your mask on. Masks are frequently mandated or required because they save lives. The last thing we should do, no matter how tempting, is take off our mask.
So leave your mask on, schedule an appointment with us, and use your hearing aids. Sticking with these guidelines will keep you safe and enhance your quality of life.