Audiology Associates of North Florida - Tallahassee, FL

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. When you go to the grocery store or doctor’s appointment, the voices of cashiers and receptionists are muffled, even distorted. Sometimes, it’s so bad you can scarcely perceive a single word. Naturally, they’re wearing masks, as well. Our face coverings aren’t totally at fault, however. It might be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it another way: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic could be exposing your hearing loss.

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 rather useful because the majority of evidence indicates that water droplets as a prominent factor (all these results, though, are still in early stages and research is still being conducted). Curtailing and preventing COVID-19, consequently, has been proven very 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. It’s not really a big problem for most individuals. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it could be difficult for you to hear anything being said.

Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Loss

The impediment of sound waves probably isn’t the sole reason you’re having trouble understanding someone wearing a mask. There’s more going on 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 happening, your brain will put the event 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 indicators are concealed when somebody is wearing a mask. The position of somebody’s mouth and the motion of their lips is unseen. 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 receiving automatically. So mumbling is probably all you will hear. And your brain will get tired even if it is able to piece together what was said.

The fatigue of a brain trying to continually compensate, under normal circumstances, can result in memory loss and impatience. With masks in place, your brain will become even more tired (it’s important to remember masks are essential protection, so keep them on).

Hearing Solutions

The pandemic is revealing hearing loss by bringing these concerns into focus. It’s not creating the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone undetected because hearing loss commonly advances relatively slowly. When your hearing first starts to decline, you may dismiss the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you may not even know you’re doing it).

That’s why it’s important to visit us regularly. Because of the variety of screenings we carry out, we can identify issues with your hearing early, often before you notice it yourself.

This is particularly true for people presently having trouble comprehending conversations through a mask. We can help you find strategies to help you navigate a masked world. Hearing aids, for example, can provide substantial benefits, allowing you to recover a lot of your functional hearing range. Hearing aids will make it much easier to hear, and understand 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 are frequently mandated or required because they save lives. The last thing we should do, no matter how tempting, is remove our mask.

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

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