If you can hear sounds and understand some words but not others, or you can’t differentiate between somebody’s voice and surrounding noise, your hearing problem might 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 influenced by a number of variables like overall health, age, brain function, and genetics. 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 may be experiencing one or more of the following kinds of loss of hearing.
Conductive Hearing Loss
When we yank on our ears, continuously swallow, and say again and again to ourselves with growing irritation, “something’s in my ear,” we could be experiencing 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 diminish the ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain. You may still be able to hear some people with louder voices while only partially hearing people with lower voices depending on the severity of your hearing loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Where conductive hearing loss can be triggered by outer- and middle-ear problems, Sensorineural hearing loss affects the inner ear. Damage to the inner ear’s hair-like cells or the auditory nerve itself can stop sound signals to the brain. Voices may sound slurred or unclean to you, and sounds can sound as either too high or too low. If you cannot differentiate voices from background noise or have difficulty hearing women and children’s voices in particular, then you might be suffering from high-frequency hearing loss.