You wear your mask when you go out, sometimes more than one, and you typically don’t mind. Occasionally, however, you have a tough 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. Quite often, you can’t understand anything that’s being said. Of course, they’re wearing masks, as well. Our face coverings aren’t really at fault, however. The real problem could lie with your hearing. Or, to say it another way: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic could be exposing your hearing impairment.
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 rather useful because the majority of evidence indicates that water droplets as a prominent factor (all these results, though, are still in early stages and studies are still being carried out). This means that masks have proven very successful at limiting and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
But masks obviously can block the projection of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice somewhat. It’s not really much of a problem for most individuals. But if hearing loss is a problem for you and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it may be hard for you to comprehend anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Loss
But your trouble understanding people wearing masks probably isn’t simply because voices are muffled. It’s more involved than that. You see, the brain is extremely good at compensating for changes in your hearing, up to a point.
Without your awareness, your brain uses contextual information to help you understand what’s being said, even if you are unable to hear it. Body language, facial expressions, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain automatically 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 somebody’s mouth and the movements of their lips is hidden. 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. 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 normal circumstances, can result in memory loss and irritability. With masks on, your brain will become even more tired (it’s important to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
These concerns are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being exposed by the pandemic. Hearing loss usually develops gradually over time and might not have been recognized in other circumstances. When your hearing first starts to diminish, you might ignore the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (maybe you don’t even know you’re doing it).
This is the reason why coming in to see us regularly is so important. Because of the types of screenings we perform, we can diagnose issues with your hearing early, often before you observe it yourself.
If you’re having a difficult time hearing what people are saying when they’re wearing a mask, this is especially true. Together we can determine ways to make you more comfortable talking with people wearing a mask. Hearing aids, for instance, can offer considerable benefits, allowing you to regain much of your functional hearing range. Hearing aids will make it a lot easier to hear, and comprehend the voices behind the masks.
Keep Your Mask on
It’s essential to remember to wear your mask even as the pandemic reveals hearing loss. Masks are frequently mandated or required because they save lives. One of the problems with muffled voices is that individuals might 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. Following these guidelines will keep you safe and improve your quality of life.