You wear your mask when you leave your house, sometimes two of them, and you generally don’t mind. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s tough to hear what other people are saying. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the store or doctor’s office. Sometimes, you can’t understand anything that’s being said. They’re also wearing masks, of course. However, the mask might not be the only source of your trouble. It may be your hearing that’s the problem. Or, to say it another way: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic may be revealing your hearing loss.
The Human Voice is Muffled by a Mask
Most quality masks are manufactured to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the instance of COVID-19, that’s pretty beneficial because most evidence points toward water droplets as a contributing factor (although the science on the spread is still being carried out, so all findings are preliminary). This means that masks have shown to be very successful at curtailing and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
However, those same masks hinder the projection of sound waves. The human voice will be somewhat muffled by a mask. For most individuals, it’s not a big deal. But if hearing loss is a problem for you and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it may be hard for you to hear anything being said.
Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Overtime
But your trouble understanding people wearing masks probably isn’t only because voices are muffled. There’s more to it than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, skilled at compensating for fluctuations in sound quality.
Without your awareness, your brain uses contextual information to help you understand what’s being said, even if you are unable to hear it. Facial expressions, body language, 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 linguistic cues are concealed. 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 compensate for the audio information you aren’t getting automatically. 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 constantly compensate, under normal circumstances, can lead to memory loss and impatience. With masks in place, your brain will become even more exhausted (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. It Isn’t creating the condition in the first place, but it might have otherwise gone undetected because hearing loss commonly advances rather slowly. When your hearing initially begins to decline, you might dismiss the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you may not even notice you’re doing it).
This is the reason why coming in to see us regularly is so essential. We can detect early hearing loss, often before you even notice it, because of the screenings we perform.
This is especially true for anyone presently having trouble comprehending conversations through a mask. We can help you discover methods to help you get through a masked world. For example, hearing aids can help you recover a lot of your functional hearing range and can supply other significant benefits. 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 important to remember you will need to keep your mask on. Masks are often mandated or required because they save lives. One of the issues with muffled voices is that people might be tempted to remove their masks, and that’s the last thing we should do.
So schedule an appointment with us, wear your hearing aid, and keep your mask on. These efforts will inevitably improve your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.