You wear your mask when you leave your house, sometimes two of them, and you typically don’t mind. Occasionally, however, you have a hard time hearing conversations. When you go to the grocery store or doctor’s appointment, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Sometimes, it’s so bad you can barely perceive a single word. Naturally, they’re wearing masks, too. However, the mask may not be the exclusive source of your difficulty. The real issue may be your hearing. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic could be exposing your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle Speech
Most good masks are made to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the instance of COVID-19, that’s rather beneficial because the majority of evidence points toward water droplets as a prominent factor (all these findings, however, are still preliminary and research is still being carried out). As a result, masks have proven quite successful at limiting and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
However, those same masks interfere with the movement of sound waves. The human voice will be somewhat muffled by a mask. For most people, it’s not a big deal. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices are suddenly all around 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 probably isn’t simply because voices are muffled. It’s more involved than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some degree, skilled at compensating for fluctuations in sound quality.
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 physical clues like facial expressions, body language, and especially lip movements to compensate for what it can’t hear.
When somebody is wearing a mask, many of those visual cues are concealed. You can’t see the shape of someone’s lips or the position of the mouth. You don’t even know if they are frowning or smiling.
Your brain has a really hard time trying to interpret what’s being said without that extra visual information. 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 constantly compensating brain can cause considerable mental exhaustion, sometimes resulting in impatience or loss of memory. With masks in place, your brain will become even more tired (it’s important to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
The pandemic is uncovering hearing loss by bringing these concerns into focus. Hearing loss commonly develops slowly over time and may not have been recognized in other circumstances. When your hearing first starts to decline, you might disregard the symptoms and turn up the volume on the television (you might not even recognize this happening).
That’s why it’s worthwhile to visit us regularly. Because of the kinds of screenings we do, we can diagnose problems with your hearing early, frequently before you notice it yourself.
This is particularly true for anyone currently having difficulty comprehending conversations through a mask. We can help you discover methods to help you navigate a masked world. Hearing aids, for instance, can offer significant benefits, allowing you to recover much of your functional hearing range. Hearing aids will make it a lot easier to hear, and understand the voices behind the masks.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic exposes hearing loss, it’s crucial to remember you will need to keep your mask on. Masks save lives and are often mandated. One of the issues with muffled voices is that individuals may be tempted to remove their masks, and that’s the last thing we should do.
So keep your mask on, schedule an appointment with us, and use your hearing aids. These initiatives will ultimately improve your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.