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Eastside Audiology - Issaquah, WA Eastside Audiology - Issaquah, WA

Mature man getting his hearing checked during the pandemic.

Typically, you don’t mind wearing a mask (or sometimes even two) when you leave your house. The only trouble is, sometimes it’s hard to hear what other people are saying. Voices are muffled and even distorted when you go to the doctor’s office or store. At times, it’s so bad you can hardly understand a single word. Naturally, they’re wearing masks, as well. However, the mask might not be the exclusive source of your difficulty. It may be your hearing that’s the issue. Or, to say it another way: those muffled voices you hear during the pandemic could be uncovering your hearing loss.

Speech is Muffled by a Mask

Most good masks are made to prevent the spread of airborne particles or water droplets. In the instance of COVID-19, that’s pretty beneficial because most evidence indicates that water droplets as a contributing factor (all these results, though, are still preliminary and studies are still being conducted). Curtailing and stopping COVID-19, as a result, has been proven really practical by wearing masks.

However, those same masks hinder the movement of sound waves. The human voice will be a bit muffled by a mask. For most individuals, it’s not a problem. But if you suffer from hearing loss and muffled voices suddenly surround you, it might be hard for you to make out anything being said.

Your Brain Compensates For Hearing Impairment

But your trouble understanding people wearing masks probably isn’t simply because voices are muffled. It’s more involved than that. The thing is, the brain is, to some extent, skilled at compensating for variations in sound quality.

Without you recognizing it, your brain makes use of contextual information to help you comprehend what’s being said, even if you are unable to hear it. 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 somebody is wearing a mask. The position of someone’s mouth and the movements of their lips is hidden. You don’t even know if they are smiling or frowning.

Mental Fatigue

Your brain has a very hard time trying to translate what’s being said without that added visual information. 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 continually compensating brain can cause significant mental exhaustion, sometimes resulting in irritability or memory loss. Your brain will become even more fatigued when everybody is wearing a mask (but leave it on because it’s important for community protection).

Hearing Solutions

The pandemic is revealing hearing loss by bringing these issues to your attention. It’s not causing the condition in the first place, but it may have otherwise gone undetected because hearing loss usually progresses rather slowly. When your hearing initially begins to decline, you may disregard the symptoms and raise the volume on the television (you may not even notice this happening).

That’s why it’s worthwhile to visit us regularly. Because of the types of screenings we carry out, we can diagnose issues with your hearing early, frequently before you notice it yourself.

This is particularly true for anyone presently having difficulty understanding conversations through a mask. Together we can determine ways to make you more comfortable conversing with people wearing a mask. Hearing aids, for instance, can produce significant 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

As the pandemic reveals hearing loss, it’s essential to remember you will need to keep your mask on. Masks save lives and are often mandated. The last thing we should do, regardless of how tempting, is remove our mask.

So leave your mask on, make an appointment with us, and use your hearing aids. These efforts 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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