You wear your mask when you leave your house, sometimes more than one, and you typically don’t mind. At times, though, you have a hard time hearing conversations. When you go to the supermarket or doctor’s appointment, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Quite often, you can’t understand anything that’s being said. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. However, the mask may not be the only source of your trouble. It may be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic may be revealing your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
Most good masks are manufactured to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the case of COVID-19, that’s rather useful because most evidence indicates that water droplets as a prominent factor (even though the science on the spread is still being done, so all results are preliminary). As a result, masks have shown to be quite effective at curtailing and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
But masks obviously can block the movement of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice slightly. It’s not really much of a problem for most people. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it could be hard for you to make out anything being said.
Hearing Impairment Makes Your Brain Work Harder
The impediment of sound waves probably isn’t the sole reason you’re having difficulty understanding someone wearing a mask. It’s more involved than that. You see, the brain is really good at compensating for fluctuations in your hearing, up to a point.
Even if you’re unable to hear what’s going on, 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.
When someone is wearing a mask, many of those visual cues are concealed. You can’t see the shape of somebody’s lips or the alignment of the mouth. You can’t even tell if it’s a smile or a frown behind the mask.
Your brain has a very hard time trying to translate what’s being said without that added visual information. 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.
Under regular circumstances, a continually compensating brain can cause considerable mental fatigue, often resulting in irritability or loss of memory. With masks on, your brain will become even more tired (it’s important to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
These issues are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being uncovered by the pandemic. Hearing loss commonly advances gradually over time and may not have been detected in other circumstances. When your hearing initially begins to decline, you may ignore the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you might not even recognize this happening).
This is why coming in to see us regularly is so important. Because of the kinds of screenings we do, we can detect problems with your hearing early, frequently before you observe it yourself.
If you are having a difficult time understanding what people are saying when they’re wearing a mask, this is especially true. We can help you discover methods to help you navigate a masked world. Hearing aids, for example, can produce considerable benefits, allowing you to recover a lot of your functional hearing range. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and comprehend with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic exposes hearing loss, it’s crucial to remember you must keep your mask on. Masks are frequently mandated or required because they save lives. One of the problems with muffled voices is that individuals may be tempted to remove their masks, and that’s the last thing we should be doing.
So keep your mask on, schedule an appointment with us, and wear your hearing aids. These efforts will inevitably enhance your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.