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. When you go to the grocery store or doctor’s appointment, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Quite often, you can’t make out anything that’s being said. They’re also wearing masks, of course. However, the mask may not be the exclusive source of your difficulty. The real issue may be your hearing. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic could be revealing your hearing loss.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
Most quality masks are made to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. Most evidence indicates airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the instance of COVID-19 so that’s very useful (although the science on the spread is still being done, so all results are in early stages). This means that masks have proven very effective at curtailing and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
But masks clearly can block the projection of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice somewhat. It’s not really much of a concern for most people. But if you suffer from hearing loss and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it may be hard for you to understand anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Loss
But your trouble understanding people wearing masks probably isn’t only because voices are muffled. There’s more going on than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, adept at compensating for variations in sound quality.
Without you recognizing it, your brain uses contextual information to help you understand what’s being said, even if you are unable to hear it. Your brain will synthesize physical clues like facial expressions, body language, and particularly lip movements to compensate for anything it can’t hear.
When someone is wearing a mask, many of those visual cues are concealed. You can’t see the shape of somebody’s lips or the alignment of the mouth. You don’t even know if they are frowning or smiling.
Without that additional information, it’s more difficult for your brain to compensate for the audio clues you aren’t receiving automatically. So mumbling is probably all you will hear. Even if your brain can, somehow, make sense of what was said, your brain will get tired.
Under regular conditions, a continuously compensating brain can cause considerable mental exhaustion, sometimes resulting in impatience 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 concerns to your attention. It Isn’t creating the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone undetected because hearing loss usually advances rather slowly. When your hearing first starts to diminish, you might disregard the symptoms and turn up the volume on the television (you might not even notice this occurring).
That’s why it’s worthwhile to visit us regularly. Because of the kinds of screenings we carry out, we can identify problems with your hearing early, frequently before you notice it yourself.
If you’re having a tough time understanding what people are saying when they are wearing a mask, this is particularly true. Together we can find ways to make you more comfortable talking with people wearing a mask. For example, hearing aids can help you get back a lot of your functional hearing range and can supply other significant benefits. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and comprehend with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic exposes hearing loss, it’s essential to remember you must keep your mask on. Masks save lives and are often mandated. The last thing we should do, no matter how tempting, is remove our mask.
So leave your mask on, schedule an appointment with us, and use your hearing aids. These efforts will inevitably improve your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.