You wear your mask when you leave your house, sometimes more than one, and you typically don’t mind. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s difficult to hear what other people are saying. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the doctor’s office or store. Sometimes, it’s so bad you can barely understand a single word. Of course, they’re wearing masks, as well. However, the mask may not be the only source of your trouble. The real problem may lie with your hearing. Or, to put it another way: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic may be revealing your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
Most quality masks are made to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. The majority of evidence indicates airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the case of COVID-19 so that’s very useful (all these results, though, are still in early stages and studies are still being done). Curtailing and stopping COVID-19, consequently, has been shown to be really effective by wearing masks.
Unfortunately, those same masks hinder the projection of sound waves. Masks can slightly muffle the human voice. It’s not really a big concern for most individuals. But if hearing loss is a problem for you and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it might be hard for you to understand anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Impairment
The impediment of sound waves likely isn’t the sole reason you’re having difficulty understanding someone wearing a mask. There’s more to it 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 utilizes contextual information to help you understand what’s being said, even if you can’t hear it. Your brain will synthesize physical clues like facial expressions, body language, and especially lip movements to compensate for anything it can’t hear.
Many of these visual hints are concealed when somebody is wearing a mask. You can’t see the shape of somebody’s lips or the position of the mouth. You don’t even know if they are smiling or frowning.
Your brain has a very difficult time trying to interpret what’s being said without that added 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 continually compensating brain can cause significant mental fatigue, sometimes resulting in irritability or loss of memory. Your brain will become even more tired when everyone is wearing a mask (but keep it on because it’s essential for community protection).
These issues are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being revealed by the pandemic. Hearing loss usually advances slowly over time and may not have been recognized in other circumstances. When your hearing initially begins to diminish, you may disregard the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you may not even notice you’re doing it).
This is the reason why coming in to see us regularly is so important. Because of the types of screenings we do, we can identify problems with your hearing early, frequently before you notice it yourself.
This is especially true for individuals currently having trouble understanding conversations through a mask. Together we can determine strategies to make you more comfortable conversing 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. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and understand with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
It’s essential to remember to wear your mask even as the pandemic reveals hearing loss. Masks save lives and are frequently mandated. One of the problems with muffled voices is that individuals may be tempted to take off their masks, and that’s the last thing we should be doing.
So make an appointment with us, use your hearing aid, and keep your mask on. Following these recommendations will keep you safe and improve your quality of life.