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 difficult to hear what other people are saying. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the store or doctor’s office. Sometimes, it’s so bad you can scarcely grasp a single word. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. However, the mask might not be the exclusive source of your difficulty. The real problem may be your hearing. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic could be exposing your hearing loss.
The Human Voice is Muffled by a Mask
Most good masks are designed 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 very useful (all these results, though, are still in early stages and studies are still being conducted). As a result, masks have shown to be very effective at curtailing and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Unfortunately, those same masks interfere with the projection of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice somewhat. It’s not really a big problem for most people. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it may be difficult for you to hear anything being said.
Hearing Impairment 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 extent, adept at compensating for fluctuations in sound quality.
Even if you can’t hear what’s going on, your brain will put the event 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’re unable to hear.
When somebody is wearing a mask, many of those visual cues are obscured. The position of somebody’s mouth and the movements of their lips is hidden. You don’t even know if they are frowning or smiling.
Your brain has a very difficult time attempting to interpret what’s being said without that extra visual information. That means you’re more likely to hear nothing but mumbles. 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 irritability. Your brain will become even more exhausted when everybody is wearing a mask (but leave it on because it’s important for community protection).
These concerns are being brought into focus 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 undetected because hearing loss typically advances relatively slowly. When your hearing first starts to decline, you may disregard the symptoms and turn up the volume on the television (you may not even detect this happening).
That’s why it’s worthwhile to visit us on a regular basis. Because of the variety of screenings we perform, we can diagnose issues with your hearing early, often before you observe it yourself.
If you’re having a hard time hearing what people are saying when they’re wearing a mask, this is particularly true. We can help you discover solutions to help you get through a masked world. For example, hearing aids can help you get back a lot of your functional hearing range and can provide 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 save lives and are frequently mandated. The last thing we should do, no matter how tempting, is remove our mask.
So make an appointment with us, wear your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. Following these guidelines will keep you safe and enhance your quality of life.