Typically, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you go out. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s hard to hear what other people are saying. When you go to the grocery store or doctor’s appointment, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. At times, it’s so bad you can barely understand a single word. They’re also wearing masks, of course. However, the mask may not be the only source of your difficulty. It might be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it another way: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic might be exposing your hearing impairment.
Masks Muffle Speech
Most good 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 pretty useful (all these results, though, are still in early stages and research is still being done). As a result, masks have shown to be very effective at limiting and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
But masks obviously can block the projection of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice somewhat. It’s not really a big problem for most people. But if you suffer from hearing loss and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it may be difficult for you to comprehend anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Loss
But your difficulty understanding people wearing masks probably isn’t only because voices are muffled. 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 your awareness, your brain makes use of contextual information to help you comprehend what’s being said, even if you can’t hear it. Your brain will synthesize things like facial expressions, body language, and especially lip movements to compensate for what 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 smiling or frowning.
Your brain has a very difficult 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 fatigue of a brain trying to constantly compensate, under normal circumstances, can lead to memory loss and impatience. Your brain will become even more tired when everyone is wearing a mask (but leave it on because it’s essential for community protection).
The pandemic is exposing hearing loss by bringing these concerns into focus. Hearing loss normally develops slowly over time and might not have been detected in other circumstances. When your hearing initially begins to decline, you might disregard the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you may not even know you’re doing it).
This is why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so important. Because of the types of screenings we carry out, we can detect issues with your hearing early, often before you observe it yourself.
This is particularly true for anyone presently having difficulty comprehending conversations through a mask. Together we can find strategies to make you more comfortable conversing with people who are wearing a mask. For instance, hearing aids can help you get back a lot of your functional hearing range and can supply other significant benefits. Hearing aids will make it a lot easier to hear, and comprehend the voices behind the masks.
Keep Your Mask on
It’s important to remember to wear your mask even as the pandemic exposes hearing loss. Masks are frequently mandated or required because they save lives. The last thing we should do, no matter how tempting, is take off our mask.
So leave your mask on, make an appointment with us, and use your hearing aids. These initiatives will inevitably enhance your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.