You wear your mask when you go out, sometimes two of them, and you generally don’t mind. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s tough to hear what other people are saying. When you go to the supermarket or doctor’s appointment, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Sometimes, it’s so bad you can barely perceive a single word. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. However, the mask may not be the only source of your trouble. It might be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic may be revealing your hearing impairment.
The Human Voice is Muffled by a Mask
Most good masks are made to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the instance of COVID-19, that’s pretty useful because most evidence indicates that water droplets as a contributing factor (although the science regarding the spread is still being done, so all findings are in early stages). Limiting and stopping COVID-19, consequently, has been proven really effective by wearing masks.
But masks obviously can stop the projection of sound waves. The human voice will be somewhat muffled by a mask. For most people, it’s not a problem. But if you have hearing loss and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it could be hard for you to comprehend anything being said.
Hearing Impairment Makes Your Brain Work Overtime
But your trouble understanding people wearing masks probably isn’t simply because voices are muffled. There’s more going on than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, adept at compensating for fluctuations in sound quality.
Even if you can’t hear what’s going on, your brain will put the event into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Your brain will synthesize physical clues like facial expressions, body language, and especially lip movements to compensate for anything it can’t hear.
When somebody is wearing a mask, many of those linguistic cues are hidden. The position of someone’s mouth and the movements of their lips is unseen. You don’t even know if they are frowning or smiling.
Without that added information, it’s harder for your brain to make up for the audio clues you aren’t receiving automatically. 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.
Under normal conditions, a continually compensating brain can cause considerable mental fatigue, sometimes resulting in irritability or loss of memory. Your brain will become even more fatigued when everybody is wearing a mask (but keep it on because it’s important for community protection).
The pandemic is uncovering hearing loss by bringing these issues to your attention. Hearing loss commonly advances slowly over time and may not have been detected in different circumstances. In the early phases of hearing loss we usually don’t even detect it and often start turning up the volume on our devices (you may not even realize you’re doing it).
That’s why it’s important to visit us regularly. Because of the types of screenings we perform, we can detect problems with your hearing early, frequently before you notice it yourself.
This is particularly true for anybody currently having trouble comprehending conversations through a mask. We can help you find methods to help you navigate a masked world. Hearing aids, for example, can offer substantial benefits, allowing you to recover much of your functional hearing range. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and understand with hearing aids.
Keep Your Mask on
As the pandemic reveals hearing loss, it’s essential to remember you must keep your mask on. Masks are frequently mandated or required because they save lives. One of the issues with muffled voices is that individuals may be tempted to take off 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. Sticking with these recommendations will keep you safe and enhance your quality of life.