Generally, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you go out. Occasionally, however, you have a tough time hearing interactions. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the doctor’s office or store. Sometimes, you can’t make out anything that’s being said. Naturally, they’re wearing masks, as well. Our face coverings aren’t totally at fault, though. The real problem may be your hearing. Or, to put it another way: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic may be revealing your hearing loss.
Speech is Muffled by a Mask
Most good masks are designed to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. Most evidence points to airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the instance of COVID-19 so that’s very useful (all these findings, however, are still preliminary and studies are still being conducted). As a result, masks have proven quite successful at curtailing and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
However, those same masks hinder the movement of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. It’s not really a big concern for most individuals. But if you suffer from hearing loss and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it could be difficult for you to understand anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Impairment
But your difficulty understanding people wearing masks most likely isn’t simply because voices are muffled. It’s more involved than that. You see, the brain is extremely good at compensating for changes in your hearing, up to a point.
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. Your brain will synthesize things like facial expressions, body language, and especially lip movements to compensate for anything 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 smiling or frowning.
Without that added input, it’s harder for your brain to make up for the audio information you aren’t receiving 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 exhaustion of a brain trying to continually compensate, under normal circumstances, can result in memory loss and irritability. Your brain will become even more fatigued when everyone is wearing a mask (but keep it on because it’s essential for community protection).
These issues are being brought to your attention and hearing loss is being uncovered by the pandemic. Hearing loss usually develops gradually over time and might not have been noticed in other circumstances. When your hearing initially begins to decline, you may ignore the symptoms and turn up the volume on the television (you may not even notice you’re doing it).
This is the reason why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so essential. Because of the kinds of screenings we carry out, we can detect problems with your hearing early, frequently before you notice it yourself.
If you are having a tough time understanding what people are saying when they are wearing a mask, this is especially true. Together we can find strategies to make you more comfortable speaking with people wearing a mask. Hearing aids, for example, can provide substantial benefits, allowing you to recover much of your functional hearing range. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and comprehend with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
It’s important to remember to keep your mask on even as the pandemic exposes hearing loss. Masks save lives and are often mandated. The last thing we should do, regardless of how tempting, is remove our mask.
So make an appointment with us, use your hearing aid, and keep your mask on. Sticking with these suggestions will keep you safe and improve your quality of life.