You wear your mask when you leave your house, sometimes two of them, and you generally don’t mind. At times, though, you have a tough time hearing interactions. When you go to the supermarket or visit your doctor’s office, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. At times, it’s so bad you can scarcely understand a single word. Obviously, they’re wearing masks, too. However, the mask might not be the only source of your trouble. The real issue could lie with your hearing. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic could be uncovering your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle Speech
Most quality masks are manufactured to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. Most evidence points to airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the instance of COVID-19 so that’s pretty useful (even though the science regarding the spread is still being conducted, so all results are in early stages). Limiting and stopping COVID-19, as a result, has been shown to be very effective by wearing masks.
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 individuals. But if you suffer from hearing loss and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it may be difficult for you to understand anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Impairment
The impediment of sound waves probably isn’t the sole reason you’re having difficulty understanding someone wearing a mask. There’s more to it 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 going on, your brain will put the event into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Facial expressions, body language, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain automatically to help you compensate for what you can’t hear.
Many of these visual clues are hidden when somebody is wearing a mask. The position of somebody’s mouth and the motion of their lips is unseen. You can’t even see if it’s a smile or a frown behind the mask.
Your brain has a really hard time trying to translate what’s being said without that extra 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.
The fatigue of a brain trying to continually compensate, under normal circumstances, can lead to loss of memory 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 concerns are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being uncovered by the pandemic. It’s not causing the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss usually progresses relatively slowly. When your hearing initially begins to decline, you might ignore the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you may not even recognize this occurring).
This is the reason why coming in to see us regularly is so essential. Because of the types of screenings we carry out, we can detect issues with your hearing early, frequently before you notice it yourself.
This is particularly true for people presently having difficulty comprehending conversations through a mask. Together we can determine strategies to make you more comfortable conversing with people wearing a mask. Hearing aids, for instance, can provide substantial benefits, allowing you to recover a lot of your functional hearing range. Hearing aids will make it a great deal 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 frequently mandated. The last thing we should do, no matter how tempting, is take off our mask.
So schedule an appointment with us, wear your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. These efforts will ultimately improve your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.