While it is a good idea to wear a face mask to help prevent the transmission of Covid 19, masks do make it harder to understand speech clearly even with normal hearing. Anyone with even a mild hearing loss is going to have a significantly more difficult time understanding speech. This new challenge has had an immediate effect on daily life instead of the more common gradual compensation of someone experiencing hearing loss. The end result is that many people that have been able to function reasonably well, are now showing obvious signs of hearing loss.
Conversing with people wearing face masks have become impromptu hearing tests.
Revealing Hearing Loss
Whether it is noise induced hearing loss or hearing loss due to aging, both occur over many years and will often go unnoticed. The person suffering the hearing loss commonly does everything they can to compensate without realizing what they’re doing. The TV gets a little louder, the cell phone gets turned up, and then the people around them begin to notice the issues. Constantly being asked to speak up or not mumble is a telltale sign. While this can go on for years, the fact that people are now suddenly wearing face masks, has provided a real contrast between be able to understand someone without a mask versus struggling to understand someone with a mask on.
Wearing a face mask makes communicating harder by removing visual cues that help us understand speech.
Difficulty Understanding Speech
We take understanding speech for granted despite the fact that it’s a workout for our ears and brain to decipher speech. The reason it is a lot of work is that many words sound very similar. Take for instance it is easy to confuse the words: fall with fail, sell with sail and puff with though. Looking below at the diagram of the “speech banana” we can see the consonants F, S and Th are all grouped together in the high frequency range. High-frequency hearing is often the first area affected by noise induced hearing loss or aging. People with high frequency hearing loss often have more difficulty understanding higher pitched voices of women and children.
The Next Step: Book A Hearing Test
The only way to know for certain if there is a problem with your hearing is to get tested. The hearing test will check your ability to hear at different frequencies as well as your ability to discern different words from one another. To start hearing what you have been missing, call our office to book a hearing test at (204) 788-1083 or contact us online.