Generally, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you go out. Sometimes, however, you have a hard time hearing conversations. When you go to the grocery store or visit your doctor’s office, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Sometimes, you can’t make out anything that’s being said. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. However, the mask might not be the only source of your trouble. It may be your hearing that’s the problem. Or, to put it another way: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic might be exposing your hearing loss.
Masks Muffle Speech
Most good masks are made to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the instance of COVID-19, that’s rather useful because most evidence indicates that water droplets as a prominent factor (all these results, though, are still preliminary and research is still being carried out). As a result, masks have shown to be very successful at limiting and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
However, those same masks impede the projection of sound waves. Masks can block the human voice slightly. It’s not really a big problem for most people. But if you have hearing loss and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it may be difficult for you to comprehend anything being said.
Hearing Impairment Makes Your Brain Work Overtime
But your difficulty understanding people wearing masks probably isn’t only because voices are muffled. It’s more involved than that. You see, the brain is really 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. Body language, facial expressions, even lip movements are all synthesized by your brain automatically to help you compensate for what you can’t hear.
Many of these visual indicators are concealed when somebody is wearing a mask. 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 really hard time trying to translate 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 continuously compensating brain can cause significant mental exhaustion, sometimes resulting in impatience or memory loss. Your brain will become even more exhausted when everyone is wearing a mask (but leave it on because it’s important for community protection).
The pandemic is uncovering hearing loss by bringing these issues to your attention. Hearing loss normally advances gradually over time and might not have been recognized in different circumstances. In the early phases of hearing loss we typically don’t even detect it and often start raising the volume on our devices (you might not even recognize this taking place).
That’s why it’s essential to visit us regularly. We can diagnose early hearing loss, frequently before you even notice it, because of the screenings we perform.
This is particularly true for individuals currently having difficulty understanding conversations through a mask. We can help you find methods to help you navigate a masked world. Hearing aids, for instance, can provide significant benefits, allowing you to recover much of your functional hearing range. Hearing aids will make it a great deal easier to hear, and comprehend the voices behind the masks.
Keep Your Mask on
It’s essential to remember to wear your mask even as the pandemic reveals hearing loss. Masks are often mandated or required because they save lives. The last thing we should do, regardless of how tempting, is remove our mask.
So schedule an appointment with us, use your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. Sticking with these recommendations will keep you safe and enhance your quality of life.