If you can hear sounds and understand some words but not others, or you can’t differentiate between someone’s voice and nearby noise, your hearing issue may be in your ear’s ability to conduct sound or in your brain’s capability of processing signals, or both.
Your ability to process sound is determined by several variables such as overall health, age, brain function, and genetics. If you have the annoying experience of hearing a person’s voice but not processing or understanding what that person is saying you may be experiencing one or more of the following types of hearing loss.
Conductive Hearing Loss
When we tug on our ears, continuously swallow, and say again and again to ourselves with growing irritation, “There’s something in my ear,” we could be suffering from conductive hearing loss. Problems with the outer and middle ear like fluid in the ear, earwax buildup, ear infections, or eardrum damage all reduce the ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain. Depending on the severity of problems going on in your ear, you may be able to make out some individuals, with louder voices, versus hearing partial words from others talking in normal or lower tones.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Unlike conductive hearing loss, which impacts the middle and outer ear, Sensorineural hearing loss impacts the inner ear. Injury to the inner ear’s hair-like cells or the auditory nerve as well can block sound signals to the brain. Sounds can seem too soft or loud and voices can sound too muddy. You’re suffering with high frequency hearing loss, if you have a hard time hearing women and children’s voices or cannot separate voices from the background noise.