You wear your mask when you leave your house, sometimes more than one, and you generally don’t mind. At times, though, you have a tough time hearing interactions. When you go to the grocery store or doctor’s appointment, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Quite often, you can’t make out anything that’s being said. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. However, the mask might not be the only source of your difficulty. It might be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic may be uncovering your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
Most quality masks are made to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. The majority of evidence indicates airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the instance of COVID-19 so that’s pretty useful (even though the science on the spread is still being conducted, so all results are in early stages). This means that masks have proven very successful at curtailing and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Unfortunately, those same masks impede the projection of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. It’s not really much of a concern for most individuals. But if hearing loss is a problem for you and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it might be hard for you to hear anything being said.
Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Harder
The obstruction of sound waves likely isn’t the only reason you’re having trouble comprehending someone wearing a mask. It’s more involved than that. You see, the brain is extremely good at compensating for changes in your hearing, up to a point.
Even if you’re unable to hear what’s happening, your brain will put the event into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Body language, facial expressions, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain naturally to help you compensate for what you can’t hear.
Many of these visual hints are concealed when somebody is wearing a mask. The position of someone’s mouth and the movements of their lips is hidden. You can’t even see if it’s a smile or a frown behind the mask.
Without that added information, it’s more difficult for your brain to compensate for the audio clues you aren’t getting automatically. 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 circumstances, a constantly compensating brain can cause considerable mental fatigue, sometimes resulting in impatience or memory loss. With masks on, your brain will become even more fatigued (it’s important to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
The pandemic is exposing hearing loss by bringing these issues to your attention. Hearing loss typically advances gradually over time and might not have been noticed in different circumstances. In the early stages of hearing loss we typically don’t even notice it and frequently start turning up the volume on our devices (you may not even realize you’re doing it).
This is why coming in to see us regularly is so important. We can identify early hearing loss, often before you even notice it, because of the screenings we do.
This is especially true for anybody presently having difficulty comprehending conversations through a mask. Together we can find ways to make you more comfortable talking with people who are wearing a mask. For example, 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 great deal easier to hear, and understand the voices behind the masks.
Keep Your Mask on
It’s important to remember to keep your mask on even as the pandemic exposes hearing loss. Masks are frequently mandated or required because they save lives. The last thing we should do, regardless of how tempting, is take off our mask.
So schedule an appointment with us, use your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. These initiatives will ultimately improve your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.