Generally, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you go out. Sometimes, though, you have a hard time hearing interactions. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the doctor’s office or store. Sometimes, you can’t understand anything that’s being said. They’re also wearing masks, of course. However, the mask may not be the only source of your difficulty. It may be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to put it another way: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic may be revealing your hearing impairment.
Speech is Muffled by a Mask
Most good masks are manufactured to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. The majority of evidence indicates airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the instance of COVID-19 so that’s pretty useful (all these findings, though, are still preliminary and studies are still being conducted). This means that masks have shown to be very effective at curtailing and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Unfortunately, those same masks impede the projection of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice slightly. For most individuals, it’s not a big deal. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it may be hard for you to make out anything being said.
Hearing Impairment Makes Your Brain Work Overtime
The obstruction of sound waves probably isn’t the sole reason you’re having difficulty comprehending someone wearing a mask. There’s more going on than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, adept at compensating for fluctuations in sound quality.
Even if you can’t hear what’s happening, your brain will put the situation into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Facial expressions, body language, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain automatically to help you compensate for what you can’t hear.
Many of these visual hints are hidden when somebody is wearing a mask. You can’t see the shape of someone’s lips or the position of the mouth. You can’t even see if it’s a smile or a frown behind the mask.
Without that additional information, it’s harder for your brain to compensate for the audio information you aren’t receiving 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.
The fatigue of a brain trying to continuously compensate, under normal circumstances, can result in loss of memory and impatience. With masks on, your brain will become even more exhausted (it’s worthwhile to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
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 might have otherwise gone undetected because hearing loss typically advances quite slowly. When your hearing initially begins to decline, you might ignore the symptoms and turn up the volume on the television (you may 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 variety of screenings we carry out, we can detect problems with your hearing early, frequently before you observe it yourself.
If you’re having a hard time understanding what people are saying when they’re wearing a mask, this is especially true. Together we can determine ways to make you more comfortable speaking with people who are wearing a mask. Hearing aids, for instance, can provide considerable benefits, allowing you to recover much of your functional hearing range. Hearing aids will make it a great deal easier to hear, and comprehend the voices behind the masks.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic reveals hearing loss, it’s essential to remember you must keep your mask on. Masks are frequently mandated or required because they save lives. The last thing we should do, no matter how tempting, is take off our mask.
So make an appointment with us, wear your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. Following these suggestions will keep you safe and improve your quality of life.