You wear your mask when you leave your house, sometimes two of them, and you typically don’t mind. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s difficult 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. In some cases, it’s so bad you can barely grasp a single word. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. However, the mask might not be the only source of your difficulty. The real problem could be your hearing. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic may be exposing your hearing loss.
The Human Voice is Muffled by a Mask
Most quality masks are designed to stop 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 pretty useful (all these results, though, are still preliminary and research is still being done). As a result, masks have shown to be quite successful at curtailing and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
But masks obviously can block the projection of sound waves. The human voice will be somewhat muffled by a mask. For the majority of people, it’s not a big deal. But if you have hearing loss and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it could 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 fluctuations in your hearing, up to a point.
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. Body language, facial expressions, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain naturally to help you compensate for what you can’t hear.
Many of these visual hints are concealed when someone is wearing a mask. 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 smile or a frown behind the mask.
Without that added input, it’s harder for your brain to make up for the audio clues you aren’t getting automatically. So mumbling is probably all you will hear. Even if your brain can, somehow, make sense of what was said, your brain will get tired.
The fatigue of a brain trying to constantly compensate, under typical circumstances, can cause loss of memory and impatience. Your brain will become even more fatigued when everyone is wearing a mask (but keep it on because it’s essential for community protection).
The pandemic is exposing hearing loss by bringing these concerns into focus. It Isn’t creating the condition in the first place, but it might have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss usually advances relatively slowly. When your hearing first starts to diminish, you might disregard the symptoms and turn up the volume on the television (you may not even notice you’re doing it).
That’s why it’s important to visit us on a regular basis. We can identify early hearing loss, frequently before you even notice it, because of the screenings we carry out.
This is particularly true for anyone currently having difficulty understanding conversations through a mask. We can help you find solutions to help you navigate 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 comprehend with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic reveals hearing loss, it’s important to remember you must keep your mask on. Masks save lives and are often mandated. One of the problems with muffled voices is that people may be tempted to take off their masks, and that’s the last thing we should do.
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.