If you can hear sounds and understand some words but not others, or you can’t distinguish between a person’s voice and surrounding noise, your hearing problem may be in your ear’s ability to conduct sound or in your brain’s capability of processing signals, or both.
Age, general wellness, brain function, and the genetic makeup of your ear all contribute to your ability to process sound. If you have the annoying experience being able to hear a person’s voice but not processing or understanding what that person is saying you might be dealing with one or more of the following kinds of loss of hearing.
Conductive Hearing Loss
When we tug on our ears, continuously swallow, and say over and over to ourselves with growing aggravation, “something’s in my ear,” we might be suffering from conductive hearing loss. Problems with the middle and outer ear like fluid in the ear, earwax buildup, ear infections, or eardrum damage all diminish the ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain. You might still be capable of hearing some people with louder voices while only partially hearing people with lower voices depending on the severity of your hearing loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Unlike conductive hearing loss, which affects the middle and outer ear, Sensorineural hearing loss impacts the inner ear. Sounds to the brain can be blocked if the auditory nerve or the hair like nerves are injured. Sounds can seem too loud or soft and voices can sound too muddy. If you can’t differentiate voices from background noise or have difficulty hearing women and children’s voices particularly, then you may be experiencing high-frequency hearing loss.