You wear your mask when you go out, sometimes two of them, and you typically don’t mind. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s difficult to hear what other people are saying. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the store or doctor’s office. Sometimes, it’s so bad you can barely perceive a single word. They’re also wearing masks, of course. However, the mask might not be the exclusive source of your trouble. The real issue may be your hearing. Or, to put it another way: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic might be exposing your hearing impairment.
Speech is Muffled by a Mask
Most quality masks are made to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the case of COVID-19, that’s pretty beneficial because most evidence indicates that water droplets as a contributing factor (although the science regarding the spread is still being carried out, so all results are preliminary). Limiting and stopping COVID-19, as a result, has been shown to be very practical by wearing masks.
However, those same masks interfere with the projection of sound waves. The human voice will be somewhat muffled by a mask. It’s not really much of a concern for most people. But if hearing loss is a problem for you and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it might be hard for you to hear anything being said.
Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Impairment
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 comprehend what’s being said, even if you can’t hear it. Your brain will synthesize physical clues like facial expressions, body language, and especially lip movements to compensate for anything it can’t hear.
Many of these visual hints are concealed when somebody 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 frowning or smiling.
Without that additional input, it’s harder for your brain to make up for the audio information 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.
The fatigue of a brain trying to continually compensate, under typical circumstances, can cause loss of memory and impatience. With masks in place, your brain will become even more fatigued (it’s important to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).
These issues are being brought to your attention and hearing loss is being uncovered by the pandemic. Hearing loss normally develops slowly over time and may not have been noticed in other 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 recognize this happening).
That’s why it’s important to visit us on a regular basis. We can diagnose early hearing loss, frequently before you even notice it, because of the screenings we do.
If you are having a hard time hearing what people are saying when they’re wearing a mask, this is especially true. Together we can find ways to make you more comfortable conversing with people wearing a mask. Hearing aids, for instance, can offer considerable benefits, allowing you to recover 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
As the pandemic reveals hearing loss, it’s essential to remember you will need to keep your mask on. Masks save lives and are often mandated. One of the issues with muffled voices is that individuals may be tempted to remove their masks, and that’s the last thing we should be doing.
So make an appointment with us, wear your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. Following these suggestions will keep you safe and enhance your quality of life.