The COVID-19 outbreak proved especially challenging for people with hearing loss. Remote healthcare appointments and the use of masks reinforced the importance of clear communication and how its absence can prove disastrous for people with hearing loss.
The Importance of Facial Expressions
A statement can be received very differently depending on whether it’s delivered with a smile or a frown. People with hearing loss rely on lip reading, visual cues, body language and expressions to give context to speech, especially if they can’t hear what is said.
The widespread implementation of face masks helped people protect themselves and slow the spread of COVID-19, but it also made lip-reading almost impossible. With half of a speaker’s face covered, a hearing-impaired person may not be able to distinguish between certain consonant and vowel sounds. Masks also muffle speech, making it harder for sound waves to travel to the ear.
The brain uses context information to help people with hearing loss understand their surroundings. If you have hearing loss, your ears aren’t sending enough sounds to stimulate your auditory cortex properly.
Your brain will still attempt to translate sound, but since it doesn’t have the input to do what it needs, it will start pulling resources from other parts of your brain to get the job done.
That increased effort can cause mental fatigue. Your brain is expending so much energy trying to interpret sounds that you’re left feeling exhausted, which can cause cognitive issues or decline. Your brain may also begin to rewire centers responsible for vision and memory to accommodate the increased workload.
Audiology & Hearing Aid Solutions is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment where we deliver comprehensive audiology services. Call 888.473.8702 or contact us online to schedule your appointment.