You wear your mask when you go out, sometimes more than one, and you generally don’t mind. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s difficult 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. Quite often, you can’t make out anything that’s being said. Of course, they’re wearing masks, too. Our face coverings aren’t totally at fault, however. It may be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic could be revealing your hearing loss.
Masks Muffle The Human Voice
Most quality masks are made to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the instance of COVID-19, that’s rather useful because the majority of evidence points toward water droplets as a contributing factor (although the science regarding the spread is still being carried out, so all findings are preliminary). Curtailing and preventing COVID-19, as a result, has been shown to be really practical by wearing masks.
Unfortunately, those same masks interfere with the projection of sound waves. Masks can slightly muffle the human voice. It’s not really a big problem for most individuals. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it might be difficult for you to hear anything being said.
Hearing Impairment Makes Your Brain Work Harder
The impediment of sound waves probably isn’t the sole reason you’re having difficulty comprehending someone wearing a mask. There’s more going on than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, adept at compensating for fluctuations in sound quality.
Without your awareness, your brain utilizes contextual information to help you comprehend what’s being said, even if you can’t hear it. Body language, facial expressions, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain naturally to help you compensate for what you can’t hear.
When somebody is wearing a mask, many of those linguistic cues are hidden. The position of somebody’s mouth and the movements of their lips is unseen. You can’t even see if it’s a smile or a frown behind the mask.
Without that added information, it’s harder for your brain to compensate for the audio clues you aren’t receiving 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 exhaustion of a brain trying to constantly compensate, under typical circumstances, can lead to memory loss and irritability. 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 exposed by the pandemic. It’s not creating the condition in the first place, but it might have otherwise gone unnoticed because hearing loss typically advances relatively slowly. When your hearing first starts to decline, you may disregard the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you might not even notice this taking place).
This is the reason why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so essential. We can detect early hearing loss, often before you even notice it, because of the screenings we perform.
If you are having a difficult time understanding what people are saying when they are wearing a mask, this is particularly true. Together we can find ways to make you more comfortable speaking with people who are wearing a mask. For example, hearing aids can help you recover 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
As the pandemic exposes hearing loss, it’s crucial to remember you will need to keep your mask on. Masks are frequently mandated or required because they save lives. One of the problems with muffled voices is that individuals may be tempted to remove their masks, and that’s the last thing we should do.
So keep your mask on, make an appointment with us, and wear your hearing aids. Following these suggestions will keep you safe and improve your quality of life.