You wear your mask when you go out, sometimes two of them, and you typically don’t mind. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s hard to hear what other people are saying. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the doctor’s office or store. Sometimes, it’s so bad you can barely understand a single word. Naturally, they’re wearing masks, as well. Our face coverings aren’t totally at fault, though. It may be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic could be uncovering your hearing loss.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
Most good 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 (although the science regarding the spread is still being conducted, so all findings are in early stages). Limiting and preventing COVID-19, consequently, has been shown to be very practical by wearing masks.
But masks obviously can stop the projection of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice somewhat. For the majority of individuals, it’s not a problem. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it could be difficult for you to comprehend anything being said.
Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Overtime
But your trouble 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’re unable to hear what’s happening, your brain will put the event into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Your brain will synthesize physical clues like facial expressions, body language, and especially lip movements to compensate for anything it can’t hear.
When somebody is wearing a mask, many of those visual cues are obscured. You can’t see the shape of someone’s lips or the position of the mouth. You can’t even tell if it’s a frown or smile behind the mask.
Without that additional input, it’s harder 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. Even if your brain can, somehow, make sense of what was said, your brain will get tired.
Under regular circumstances, a constantly compensating brain can cause considerable mental exhaustion, often resulting in irritability or loss of memory. Your brain will become even more tired when everybody is wearing a mask (but leave it on because it’s essential for community protection).
The pandemic is revealing hearing loss by bringing these issues to your attention. It’s not causing the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss commonly advances quite slowly. When your hearing initially begins to decline, you might dismiss 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 on a regular basis. We can detect early hearing loss, often before you even notice it, because of the screenings we perform.
If you’re having a difficult time hearing what people are saying when they are wearing a mask, this is particularly true. Together we can determine ways to make you more comfortable talking with people who are wearing a mask. Hearing aids, for example, can offer considerable benefits, allowing you to recover a lot 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
As the pandemic reveals hearing loss, it’s crucial 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 take off our mask.
So leave your mask on, schedule an appointment with us, and wear your hearing aids. These efforts will ultimately enhance your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.