How The Pandemic Exposes Hearing Loss

Mature man getting his hearing checked during the pandemic.

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 tough to hear what other people are saying. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the doctor’s office or store. Sometimes, it’s so bad you can hardly perceive a single word. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. However, the mask may not be the exclusive source of your trouble. The real issue may be your hearing. Or, to say it another way: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic may be revealing your hearing loss.

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 instance of COVID-19 so that’s very useful (all these findings, however, are still in early stages and research is still being done). Curtailing and preventing COVID-19, as a result, has been shown to be really practical by wearing masks.

But masks clearly can block the movement of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. For most people, it’s not a problem. But if hearing loss is a problem for you and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it could be difficult for you to understand anything being said.

Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Impairment

The impediment of sound waves likely isn’t the only reason you’re having difficulty comprehending someone wearing a mask. It’s more involved than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, adept at compensating for fluctuations in sound quality.

Even if you’re unable to hear what’s going on, your brain will put the situation into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Your brain will synthesize physical clues like facial expressions, body language, and particularly lip movements to compensate for anything it can’t hear.

When somebody is wearing a mask, many of those visual cues are obscured. You can’t see the shape of somebody’s lips or the alignment of the mouth. You don’t even know if they are smiling or frowning.

Mental Fatigue

Without that additional input, it’s harder for your brain to make up for the audio information you aren’t getting automatically. That means you’re more likely to hear nothing but mumbles. And your brain will get tired even if it is able to piece together what was said.

The fatigue of a brain trying to continuously compensate, under normal circumstances, can result in memory loss and irritability. Your brain will become even more tired when everybody is wearing a mask (but keep it on because it’s essential for community protection).

Hearing Solutions

The pandemic is uncovering hearing loss by bringing these issues to your attention. Hearing loss normally advances slowly over time and might not have been noticed in other circumstances. In the early stages of hearing loss we normally don’t even detect it and often start raising the volume on our devices (you might not even notice this happening).

This is the reason why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so essential. We can diagnose early hearing loss, often before you even notice it, because of the screenings we perform.

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

Keep Your Mask on

As the pandemic reveals hearing loss, it’s essential to remember you will need to keep your mask on. Masks are often mandated or required because they save lives. One of the problems with muffled voices is that people may be tempted to take off their masks, and that’s the last thing we should do.

So schedule an appointment with us, wear your hearing aid, and leave your mask on. These efforts will inevitably enhance your quality of life, and help keep you safe, as well.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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