You wear your mask when you go out, sometimes more than one, and you generally don’t mind. Sometimes, though, you have a hard time hearing conversations. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the store or doctor’s office. Quite often, you can’t understand anything that’s being said. Naturally, 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 loss.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
Most good masks are designed to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the instance of COVID-19, that’s pretty beneficial because the majority of evidence indicates that water droplets as a contributing factor (all these findings, though, are still preliminary and research is still being carried out). As a result, masks have shown to be very successful at limiting and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
But masks clearly can stop the projection of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. For the majority of people, it’s not a big deal. But if you have hearing loss and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it may be hard for you to comprehend anything being said.
Hearing Impairment Makes Your Brain Work Harder
But your difficulty understanding people wearing masks probably isn’t only because voices are muffled. It’s more involved 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. Body language, facial expressions, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain naturally to help you compensate for what you can’t hear.
When somebody is wearing a mask, many of those linguistic cues are hidden. The position of somebody’s mouth and the motion of their lips is hidden. You can’t even tell if it’s a frown or smile behind the mask.
Your brain has a very difficult time attempting to interpret what’s being said without that extra visual information. 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.
Under regular circumstances, a continuously compensating brain can cause considerable mental fatigue, often resulting in irritability or loss of memory. With masks in place, your brain will become even more tired (it’s important to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
The pandemic is exposing hearing loss by bringing these concerns to your attention. It’s not causing the condition in the first place, but it might have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss commonly advances rather slowly. In the early stages of hearing loss we typically don’t even notice it and frequently start turning up the volume on our devices (maybe you don’t even know you’re doing it).
That’s why it’s important to visit us on a regular basis. We can detect early hearing loss, frequently before you even notice it, because of the screenings we perform.
This is especially true for people presently having difficulty understanding conversations through a mask. We can help you discover solutions to help you get through a masked world. For example, hearing aids can help you recover a lot of your functional hearing range and can supply 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 important to remember you will need to keep your mask on. Masks save lives and are often mandated. One of the problems with muffled voices is that people may be tempted to take off their masks, and that’s the last thing we should do.
So keep your mask on, schedule an appointment with us, and use your hearing aids. Sticking with these suggestions will keep you safe and improve your quality of life.