If you can hear sounds and make out some words but not others, or you can’t distinguish between someone’s voice and nearby noise, your hearing issue could 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. You may be dealing with one of the following kinds of hearing loss if you have the frustrating experience of hearing people talk but not being able to comprehend 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, “There’s something in my ear,” we might be suffering from conductive hearing loss. Issues with the outer and middle ear such as fluid in the ear, earwax buildup, ear infections, or damage to your eardrum all decrease the ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain. Depending on the seriousness of issues going on in your ear, you could be able to understand some people, with louder voices, versus hearing partial words from others talking in normal or lower tones.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Unlike conductive hearing loss, which affects the middle and outer ear, Sensorineural hearing loss impacts the inner ear. Damage to the inner ear’s hair-like cells or the auditory nerve itself can block sound signals from going to the brain. Sounds can seem too soft or loud and voices can come across too muddy. You’re experiencing high frequency hearing loss, if you have difficulty hearing women and children’s voices or can’t distinguish voices from the background noise.