Lake Murray Hearing - Columbia and Lexington, SC

Mature man getting his hearing checked during the pandemic.

You wear your mask when you leave your house, sometimes more than one, and you typically don’t mind. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s hard to hear what other people are saying. 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 understand anything that’s being said. They’re also wearing masks, obviously. However, the mask might not be the exclusive source of your trouble. The real problem could be your hearing. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic might be uncovering your hearing loss.

The Human Voice is Muffled by a Mask

Most quality masks are designed to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the case of COVID-19, that’s pretty useful because the majority of evidence points toward water droplets as a prominent factor (even though the science regarding the spread is still being done, so all results are in early stages). As a result, masks have proven quite effective at curtailing and stopping the spread of COVID-19.

But masks obviously can stop the movement of sound waves. The human voice will be somewhat muffled by a mask. For most individuals, it’s not a problem. But if you suffer from hearing loss and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it could be hard for you to comprehend anything being said.

Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Impairment

But your trouble understanding people wearing masks probably isn’t simply because voices are muffled. It’s more involved than that. You see, the brain is very 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 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’re unable to hear.

When someone is wearing a mask, many of those linguistic cues are hidden. You can’t see the shape of someone’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 more difficult for your brain to make up for the audio clues you aren’t getting automatically. 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 conditions, a continuously compensating brain can cause significant mental exhaustion, sometimes resulting in irritability or memory loss. Your brain will become even more tired when everyone is wearing a mask (but keep it on because it’s essential for community protection).

Hearing Solutions

These concerns are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being exposed by the pandemic. Hearing loss normally develops gradually over time and may not have been noticed in different circumstances. When your hearing initially begins to diminish, you may disregard the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you may not even realize you’re doing it).

This is the reason why coming in to see us regularly is so important. Because of the kinds of screenings we do, we can diagnose problems with your hearing early, frequently before you notice it yourself.

This is particularly true for individuals currently having difficulty comprehending conversations through a mask. We can help you discover strategies to help you navigate a masked world. For example, hearing aids can help you regain a lot of your functional hearing range and can supply other significant benefits. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and understand with hearing aids.

Keep Your Mask on

It’s essential to remember to wear your mask even as the pandemic reveals hearing loss. Masks save lives and are frequently mandated. The last thing we should do, regardless of how tempting, is take off our mask.

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

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