How The Pandemic Uncovers Hearing Loss

Mature man getting his hearing checked during the pandemic.

You wear your mask when you leave your house, sometimes more than one, and you generally 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, you can’t understand anything that’s being said. Of course, they’re wearing masks, too. Our face coverings aren’t totally at fault, however. It may be your hearing that’s the problem. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic might be revealing your hearing impairment.

Masks Muffle Speech

Most quality masks are manufactured to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the case of COVID-19, that’s pretty beneficial because most evidence points toward water droplets as a prominent factor (although the science on the spread is still being conducted, so all findings are in early stages). This means that masks have proven very effective at limiting and preventing the spread of COVID-19.

But masks obviously can stop the projection of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. For most people, it’s not a big deal. But if you suffer from hearing loss and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it might be difficult for you to comprehend anything being said.

Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Loss

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 degree, skilled at compensating for fluctuations in sound quality.

Without your awareness, your brain utilizes contextual information to help you comprehend what’s being said, even if you are unable to hear it. Facial expressions, body language, 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. 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.

Mental Fatigue

Your brain has a really hard time trying to translate what’s being said without that extra visual information. 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.

Under regular circumstances, a continuously compensating brain can cause considerable mental exhaustion, often resulting in impatience or loss of memory. Your brain will become even more tired when everyone is wearing a mask (but keep it on because it’s important for community protection).

Hearing Solutions

These concerns are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being revealed by the pandemic. It Isn’t creating the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone undetected because hearing loss commonly advances relatively slowly. When your hearing initially begins to diminish, you may ignore the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you may not even notice this taking place).

This is why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so important. Because of the types of screenings we carry out, we can identify issues with your hearing early, frequently before you observe it yourself.

If you’re having a hard time understanding what people are saying when they’re wearing a mask, this is especially true. We can help you find solutions to help you get through a masked world. For example, hearing aids can help you regain a lot of your functional hearing range and can provide other significant benefits. Hearing aids will make it a lot easier to hear, and understand the voices behind the masks.

Keep Your Mask on

As the pandemic reveals hearing loss, it’s important to remember you will need to keep your mask on. Masks are frequently mandated or required because they save lives. One of the problems with muffled voices is that individuals might be tempted to remove 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 improve 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.