Generally, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you go out. 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 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 might not be the exclusive source of your trouble. The real issue may lie with your hearing. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic might 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. The majority of evidence indicates airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the instance of COVID-19 so that’s very useful (although the science on the spread is still being done, so all results are in early stages). Limiting and preventing COVID-19, as a result, has been proven very effective by wearing masks.
But masks obviously can block the projection of sound waves. Masks can slightly muffle the human voice. It’s not really much of a problem 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 make out anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Loss
The impediment of sound waves likely isn’t the only reason you’re having trouble comprehending someone wearing a mask. There’s more going on than that. You see, the brain is very 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 situation into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Your brain will synthesize things like facial expressions, body language, and particularly lip movements to compensate for what it can’t hear.
When somebody is wearing a mask, many of those linguistic cues are concealed. You can’t see the shape of someone’s lips or the alignment of the mouth. You don’t even know if they are frowning or smiling.
Without that additional information, it’s harder for your brain to make up for the audio clues 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 conditions, a continuously compensating brain can cause considerable mental exhaustion, sometimes resulting in irritability or memory loss. With masks in place, your brain will become even more fatigued (it’s worthwhile to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
These concerns are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being uncovered by the pandemic. It’s not causing the condition in the first place, but it might have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss usually progresses relatively slowly. In the early stages of hearing loss we normally don’t even detect it and often start raising the volume on our devices (you might not even detect this happening).
This is the reason why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so essential. We can detect early hearing loss, frequently before you even notice it, because of the screenings we perform.
If you’re having a hard time understanding what people are saying when they’re wearing a mask, this is particularly true. We can help you find strategies to help you get through a masked world. For instance, hearing aids can help you get back a lot of your functional hearing range and can supply other significant benefits. Hearing aids will make it a great deal easier to hear, and understand the voices behind the masks.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic exposes hearing loss, it’s essential to remember you will need to keep your mask on. Masks are frequently mandated or required because they save lives. One of the problems with muffled voices is that individuals might be tempted to take off their masks, and that’s the last thing we should do.
So schedule an appointment with us, use your hearing aid, and keep your mask on. These efforts will ultimately enhance your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.