Typically, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you go out. Occasionally, though, you have a tough time hearing conversations. When you go to the supermarket or visit your doctor’s office, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Sometimes, you can’t make out anything that’s being said. They’re also wearing masks, of course. However, the mask may not be the only source of your trouble. The real issue could be your hearing. Or, to say it another way: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic could be revealing your hearing loss.
The Human Voice is Muffled by a Mask
Most quality masks are made to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the instance of COVID-19, that’s pretty beneficial because the majority of evidence indicates that water droplets as a contributing factor (all these results, though, are still preliminary and research is still being conducted). As a result, masks have proven very successful at curtailing and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
However, those same masks impede the projection of sound waves. Masks can slightly muffle the human voice. For most people, it’s not a big deal. But if you have hearing loss and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it could be difficult for you to hear anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Loss
But your difficulty understanding people wearing masks probably isn’t only because voices are muffled. It’s more involved than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some degree, adept at compensating for variations in sound quality.
Even if you can’t hear what’s happening, your brain will put the event into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Your brain will synthesize physical clues like facial expressions, body language, and particularly lip movements to compensate for anything it can’t hear.
When somebody is wearing a mask, many of those visual cues are obscured. You can’t see the shape of somebody’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.
The fatigue of a brain trying to continuously compensate, under typical circumstances, can lead to memory loss and irritability. With masks on, your brain will become even more tired (it’s worthwhile to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
The pandemic is revealing hearing loss by bringing these concerns into focus. It’s not creating the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone undetected because hearing loss usually advances quite slowly. When your hearing first starts to diminish, you might disregard the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you may not even notice you’re doing it).
That’s why it’s worthwhile to visit us regularly. Because of the kinds of screenings we carry out, we can diagnose problems with your hearing early, often before you notice it yourself.
If you are having a tough time hearing what people are saying when they’re wearing a mask, this is particularly true. We can help you find solutions to help you navigate a masked world. Hearing aids, for instance, can offer significant benefits, allowing you to regain a lot 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 reveals hearing loss, it’s essential to remember you will need to keep your mask on. Masks are often mandated or required because they save lives. One of the problems with muffled voices is that people may be tempted to take off their masks, and that’s the last thing we should do.
So leave your mask on, make an appointment with us, and wear your hearing aids. Following these recommendations will keep you safe and improve your quality of life.