Generally, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you go out. Sometimes, however, you have a tough time hearing interactions. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the doctor’s office or store. In some cases, it’s so bad you can hardly perceive a single word. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. However, the mask may not be the exclusive source of your difficulty. The real issue could be your hearing. Or, to say it another way: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic may be uncovering your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle Speech
Most quality masks are made to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. Most evidence indicates 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 research is still being conducted). Limiting and stopping COVID-19, as a result, has been shown to be very practical by wearing masks.
Unfortunately, those same masks hinder the movement of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice slightly. It’s not really a big problem for most individuals. But if hearing loss is a problem for you and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it may be hard for you to comprehend anything being said.
Hearing Impairment Makes Your Brain Work Harder
But your difficulty understanding people wearing masks probably 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.
Without you recognizing it, your brain makes use of contextual information to help you comprehend what’s being said, even if you can’t hear it. Body language, facial expressions, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain automatically to help you compensate for what you can’t hear.
When someone 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 clues 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.
Under normal circumstances, a continuously compensating brain can cause considerable mental fatigue, often resulting in irritability or memory loss. With masks in place, your brain will become even more fatigued (it’s important to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
The pandemic is revealing hearing loss by bringing these issues into focus. It Isn’t causing the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone undetected because hearing loss commonly advances quite slowly. In the early stages of hearing loss we typically don’t even detect it and often start raising the volume on our devices (you may not even detect this happening).
This is the reason why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so essential. We can identify early hearing loss, frequently before you even notice it, because of the screenings we perform.
This is especially true for anybody presently having difficulty understanding conversations through a mask. We can help you find strategies to help you get through a masked world. For instance, hearing aids can help you regain a lot of your functional hearing range and can supply other significant benefits. Hearing aids will make it a lot easier to hear, and comprehend the voices behind the masks.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic exposes hearing loss, it’s essential to remember you must keep your mask on. Masks are often mandated or required because they save lives. One of the issues with muffled voices is that people may be tempted to take off their masks, and that’s the last thing we should be doing.
So keep your mask on, make an appointment with us, and wear your hearing aids. These efforts will ultimately improve your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.