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Enhanced Hearing Center - Springfield, MO

Mature man getting his hearing checked during the pandemic.

Typically, 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. In some cases, it’s so bad you can scarcely understand a single word. Naturally, they’re wearing masks, as well. Our face coverings aren’t totally at fault, however. The real issue could lie with your hearing. Or, to put it another way: those muffled voices you’re hearing during the pandemic could be uncovering your hearing impairment.

Masks Muffle Speech

Most good masks are designed to stop the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the instance of COVID-19, that’s pretty beneficial because most evidence points toward water droplets as a contributing factor (although the science regarding the spread is still being done, so all results are preliminary). Limiting and stopping COVID-19, as a result, has been shown to be really practical by wearing masks.

But masks clearly can stop the movement of sound waves. The human voice will be somewhat muffled by a mask. It’s not really a big concern for most people. But if you suffer from hearing loss and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it might be difficult for you to understand anything being said.

Hearing Impairment Makes Your Brain Work Harder

The obstruction of sound waves probably isn’t the sole reason you’re having trouble understanding someone wearing a mask. It’s more involved than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, adept at compensating for variations in sound quality.

Even if you can’t hear what’s happening, your brain will put the event into context and use that information to interpret what’s being said. Your brain will synthesize physical clues like facial expressions, body language, and particularly lip movements to compensate for anything it can’t hear.

Many of these visual hints are hidden when someone is wearing a mask. You can’t see the shape of somebody’s lips or the position of the mouth. You can’t even tell if it’s a smile or a frown behind the mask.

Mental Fatigue

Without that additional information, it’s more difficult for your brain to compensate for the audio information you aren’t getting automatically. So mumbling is probably all you will hear. Even if your brain can, somehow, make sense of what was said, your brain will get tired.

Under normal circumstances, a constantly compensating brain can cause considerable mental fatigue, sometimes resulting in irritability or memory loss. Your brain will become even more tired when everybody is wearing a mask (but leave it on because it’s essential for community protection).

Hearing Solutions

The pandemic is revealing hearing loss by bringing these concerns into focus. Hearing loss typically advances slowly over time and may not have been detected in other circumstances. When your hearing first starts to decline, you may ignore the symptoms and turn up the volume on the television (you may not even realize you’re doing it).

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

If you are having a tough time understanding what people are saying when they’re wearing a mask, this is especially true. We can help you discover methods 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 great deal easier to hear, and comprehend the voices behind the masks.

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. One of the problems with muffled voices is that people may be tempted to take off their masks, and that’s the last thing we should do.

So keep your mask on, make an appointment with us, and use your hearing aids. Sticking with these suggestions will keep you safe and improve your quality of life.

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