Typically, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you leave your house. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s tough to hear what other people are saying. 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 hardly grasp a single word. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. Our face coverings aren’t totally at fault, however. The real issue may be your hearing. Or, to put it another way: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic could be revealing your hearing loss.
Speech is Muffled by a Mask
Most quality masks are manufactured 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 very useful (even though the science regarding the spread is still being conducted, so all findings are in early stages). As a result, masks have shown to be quite successful at limiting and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
However, those same masks hinder the movement of sound waves. Masks can slightly muffle the human voice. It’s not really a big concern for most individuals. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it might be hard for you to understand anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Loss
But your difficulty understanding people wearing masks most likely isn’t only 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 makes use of contextual information to help you comprehend what’s being said, even if you can’t 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.
Many of these visual indicators are hidden when somebody 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 frown or smile behind the mask.
Your brain has a really hard time trying to translate what’s being said without that extra visual information. That means you’re more likely to hear nothing but mumbles. Even if your brain can, somehow, make sense of what was said, your brain will get tired.
The exhaustion of a brain trying to continually compensate, under typical circumstances, can cause loss of memory and impatience. Your brain will become even more exhausted when everyone is wearing a mask (but leave it on because it’s important for community protection).
These issues are being brought to your attention and hearing loss is being exposed by the pandemic. It’s not creating the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss usually advances relatively slowly. When your hearing first starts to decline, you might disregard the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you might not even detect this happening).
This is the reason why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so essential. Because of the kinds of screenings we perform, we can diagnose issues with your hearing early, frequently before you notice it yourself.
This is particularly true for anybody presently having trouble comprehending conversations through a mask. We can help you find solutions to help you navigate 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 comprehend with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
It’s essential to remember to wear your mask even as the pandemic exposes hearing loss. Masks are frequently mandated or required because they save lives. One of the issues with muffled voices is that individuals may be tempted to take off their masks, and that’s the last thing we should be doing.
So leave your mask on, make an appointment with us, and wear your hearing aids. Sticking with these guidelines will keep you safe and enhance your quality of life.