You wear your mask when you leave your house, sometimes more than one, and you generally don’t mind. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s tough to hear what other people are saying. When you go to the supermarket or visit your doctor’s office, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. In some cases, it’s so bad you can hardly understand a single word. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. However, the mask may not be the exclusive source of your trouble. The real problem could be your hearing. Or, to put it another way: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic may be revealing your hearing impairment.
The Human Voice is Muffled by a Mask
Most quality masks are designed to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the case of COVID-19, that’s rather useful because the majority of evidence indicates that water droplets as a contributing factor (even though the science regarding the spread is still being carried out, so all results are preliminary). Limiting and stopping COVID-19, consequently, has been proven really practical by wearing masks.
But masks obviously can block 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 a problem for you and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it may be difficult for you to hear anything being said.
Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Harder
But your difficulty understanding people wearing masks most likely isn’t simply because voices are muffled. There’s more going on than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some degree, adept at compensating for variations in sound quality.
Without you recognizing it, your brain makes use of 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 somebody is wearing a mask, many of those linguistic cues are obscured. The position of someone’s mouth and the movements of their lips is hidden. You don’t even know if they are smiling or frowning.
Without that additional information, it’s more difficult for your brain to make up for the audio information you aren’t getting automatically. 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.
The exhaustion of a brain trying to continually compensate, under typical circumstances, can result in loss of memory and impatience. Your brain will become even more tired when everybody is wearing a mask (but keep it on because it’s essential for community protection).
The pandemic is uncovering hearing loss by bringing these concerns to your attention. It Isn’t causing the condition in the first place, but it might have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss usually advances relatively slowly. In the early phases of hearing loss we normally don’t even detect it and frequently start raising the volume on our devices (maybe you don’t even realize you’re doing it).
This is the reason why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so essential. Because of the types of screenings we perform, we can diagnose issues with your hearing early, frequently before you notice it yourself.
If you’re having a difficult time hearing what people are saying when they’re wearing a mask, this is particularly true. We can help you discover strategies to help you navigate a masked world. For instance, 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
It’s essential to remember to keep your mask on even as the pandemic reveals hearing loss. Masks are often mandated or required because they save lives. 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 use your hearing aids. These initiatives will inevitably improve your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.