Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

Mature man getting his hearing checked during the pandemic.

Generally, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you go out. At times, though, you have a tough time hearing interactions. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the store or doctor’s office. Sometimes, you can’t understand anything that’s being said. Obviously, they’re wearing masks, too. Our face coverings aren’t completely at fault, though. It may be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic could be revealing your hearing loss.

The Human Voice is Muffled by a Mask

Most good masks are designed to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the instance of COVID-19, that’s rather useful because most evidence indicates that water droplets as a contributing factor (even though the science regarding the spread is still being conducted, so all findings are in early stages). This means that masks have proven very successful at curtailing and stopping the spread of COVID-19.

But masks clearly can stop the movement of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. It’s not really much of a concern for most individuals. But if hearing loss is an issue for you and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it may be hard for you to understand anything being said.

Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Overtime

But your trouble understanding people wearing masks most likely isn’t simply because voices are muffled. It’s more involved 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 going on, your brain will put the situation into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Your brain will synthesize things like facial expressions, body language, and particularly lip movements to compensate for anything it can’t hear.

Many of these visual hints 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 smiling or frowning.

Mental Fatigue

Without that added information, it’s more difficult for your brain to compensate for the audio information you aren’t receiving 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.

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

Hearing Solutions

These issues are being brought into focus and hearing loss is being uncovered by the pandemic. Hearing loss usually advances gradually over time and might not have been detected in other circumstances. In the early stages of hearing loss we normally don’t even notice it and frequently start turning up the volume on our devices (you may not even recognize this occurring).

This is why coming in to see us on a regular basis is so important. We can identify early hearing loss, often before you even notice it, because of the screenings we carry out.

This is especially true for people presently having trouble comprehending conversations through a mask. We can help you find solutions to help you navigate a masked world. Hearing aids, for example, can produce substantial benefits, allowing you to regain a lot of your functional hearing range. Voices behind the mask will be easier to hear and understand with hearing aids.

Keep Your Mask on

It’s essential to remember to keep your mask on even as the pandemic reveals hearing loss. Masks save lives and are frequently mandated. One of the issues with muffled voices is that individuals may be tempted to take off their masks, and that’s the last thing we should be doing.

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

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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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