Typically, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you go out. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s tough to hear what other people are saying. 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 perceive a single word. They’re also wearing masks, of course. Our face coverings aren’t really at fault, however. It may be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic may be uncovering your hearing loss.
The Human Voice is Muffled by a Mask
Most quality masks are manufactured to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. Most evidence indicates airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the case of COVID-19 so that’s very useful (although the science on the spread is still being conducted, so all results are in early stages). Curtailing and stopping COVID-19, as a result, has been proven very effective by wearing masks.
But masks obviously can stop the projection of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice somewhat. For most people, it’s not a big deal. But if hearing loss is a problem for you and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it might be difficult for you to understand anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Loss
The impediment of sound waves probably isn’t the sole reason you’re having trouble understanding someone wearing a mask. There’s more to it than that. You see, the brain is really good at compensating for fluctuations in your hearing, up to a point.
Even if you’re unable to hear what’s going on, your brain will put the situation 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 indicators are hidden when someone is wearing a mask. 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.
Your brain has a really hard time trying to interpret what’s being said without that added visual information. So mumbling is probably all you will hear. And your brain will get tired even if it is able to piece together what was said.
The exhaustion of a brain trying to constantly compensate, under normal circumstances, can cause loss of memory and impatience. Your brain will become even more fatigued when everybody 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 exposed by the pandemic. It Isn’t creating the condition in the first place, but it might have otherwise gone undetected because hearing loss usually progresses quite slowly. When your hearing first starts to diminish, you might ignore the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you might not even detect this happening).
This is why coming in to see us regularly is so important. We can detect early hearing loss, often before you even notice it, because of the screenings we do.
If you are having a tough time understanding what people are saying when they are wearing a mask, this is particularly true. We can help you find methods to help you get through a masked world. Hearing aids, for example, can provide significant benefits, allowing you to regain a lot of your functional hearing range. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and understand with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
It’s essential to remember to keep your mask on even as the pandemic reveals hearing loss. Masks save lives and are frequently mandated. One of the problems with muffled voices is that people might be tempted to remove their masks, and that’s the last thing we should be doing.
So keep your mask on, schedule an appointment with us, and wear your hearing aids. Following these suggestions will keep you safe and enhance your quality of life.