Mature man getting his hearing checked during the pandemic.

You wear your mask when you go out, sometimes more than one, and you typically 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 visit your doctor’s office, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Sometimes, it’s so bad you can scarcely grasp a single word. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. Our face coverings aren’t really at fault, though. The real issue may lie with your hearing. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic could be exposing your hearing impairment.

Masks Muffle The Human Voice

Most good masks are made to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. Most evidence points to airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the case of COVID-19 so that’s very useful (although the science on the spread is still being carried out, so all findings are in early stages). Limiting and stopping COVID-19, as a result, has been shown to be really effective by wearing masks.

But masks clearly can block the projection of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. For most individuals, it’s not a problem. But if you have hearing loss and muffled voices are suddenly all around 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 most likely isn’t simply because voices are muffled. There’s more going on than that. You see, the brain is extremely good at compensating for changes in your hearing, up to a point.

Even if you can’t hear what’s happening, your brain will put the situation into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. 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 hints are hidden when somebody is wearing a mask. The position of somebody’s mouth and the motion of their lips is unseen. You can’t even see if it’s a smile or a frown behind the mask.

Mental Fatigue

Your brain has a really difficult time attempting to interpret what’s being said without that extra 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 normal circumstances, a continually compensating brain can cause considerable mental fatigue, often resulting in irritability or memory loss. With masks on, your brain will become even more tired (it’s important to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).

Hearing Solutions

These concerns are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being revealed by the pandemic. It’s not causing the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone undetected because hearing loss usually progresses rather slowly. When your hearing initially begins to decline, you might dismiss the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you may not even detect this occurring).

This is the reason why coming in to see us regularly is so essential. We can identify early hearing loss, frequently before you even notice it, because of the screenings we do.

If you’re having a hard time understanding what people are saying when they’re wearing a mask, this is particularly true. Together we can determine strategies to make you more comfortable talking with people wearing a mask. For example, hearing aids can help you recover a lot of your functional hearing range and can provide other significant benefits. Hearing aids will make it much easier to hear, and comprehend the voices behind the masks.

Keep Your Mask on

As the pandemic exposes hearing loss, it’s crucial to remember you will need to keep your mask on. Masks save lives and are frequently mandated. The last thing we should do, no matter how tempting, is remove our mask.

So keep your mask on, make an appointment with us, and wear your hearing aids. Sticking with these guidelines will keep you safe and improve your quality of life.

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