Hearing Services of Nashville

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 difficult 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, it’s so bad you can scarcely understand a single word. Obviously, they’re wearing masks, as well. However, the mask might not be the exclusive source of your difficulty. It might be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it differently: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic could be uncovering your hearing impairment.

Speech is Muffled by a Mask

Most good masks are made to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. The majority of evidence points to airborne water droplets as a contributing factor in the case of COVID-19 so that’s pretty useful (even though the science regarding the spread is still being carried out, so all results are preliminary). As a result, masks have proven quite effective at curtailing and stopping the spread of COVID-19.

But masks clearly can stop the projection of sound waves. Masks can slightly muffle the human voice. For the majority of individuals, it’s not a problem. But if you suffer from hearing loss and muffled voices are suddenly all around you, it might be hard for you to understand anything being said.

Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Loss

The obstruction of sound waves probably isn’t the only reason you’re having difficulty understanding someone wearing a mask. There’s more to it than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, adept at compensating for fluctuations in sound quality.

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 what it can’t hear.

Many of these visual indicators are concealed when someone is wearing a mask. You can’t see the shape of someone’s lips or the alignment of the mouth. You can’t even see if it’s a smile or a frown behind the mask.

Mental Fatigue

Your brain has a very difficult time trying to translate what’s being said without that added visual information. 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.

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

Hearing Solutions

The pandemic is exposing hearing loss by bringing these concerns to your attention. Hearing loss typically develops slowly over time and might not have been detected in different circumstances. In the early phases of hearing loss we typically don’t even notice it and often start raising the volume on our devices (maybe you don’t even notice you’re doing it).

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

This is especially true for individuals currently having trouble comprehending conversations through a mask. We can help you discover solutions to help you navigate a masked world. Hearing aids, for example, can offer substantial benefits, allowing you to recover much 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 important to remember to keep your mask on even as the pandemic exposes hearing loss. Masks save lives and are frequently mandated. The last thing we should do, regardless of how tempting, is remove our mask.

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

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