If you can hear voices and make out some words but not others, or you can’t distinguish between a person’s voice and nearby noise, your hearing problem may be in your ear’s ability to conduct sound or in your brain’s ability to process signals, or both.
Brain function, age, general health, and the physical makeup of your ear all contribute to your ability to process sound. You could be dealing with one of the following types of hearing loss if you have the frustrating experience of hearing people speak but not being able to understand what they are saying.
Conductive Hearing Loss
When we yank on our ears, continuously swallow, and say over and over to ourselves with increasing aggravation, “something’s in my ear,” we could be experiencing conductive hearing loss. The ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain is diminished by problems to the middle and outer ear like wax buildup, ear infections, eardrum damage, and fluid buildup. Depending on the severity of issues going on in your ear, you could be able to understand some individuals, with louder voices, versus catching partial words from others speaking in normal or lower tones.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Where conductive hearing loss can be brought on by outer- and middle-ear problems, Sensorineural hearing loss impacts the inner ear. Damage to the inner ear’s hair-like cells or the auditory nerve itself can stop sound signals from going to the brain. Sounds can seem too soft or loud and voices can sound too muddy. You’re experiencing high frequency hearing loss, if you have a hard time hearing women and children’s voices or can’t separate voices from the background noise.