If you can hear sounds and make out some words but not others, or you can’t differentiate between a person’s voice and surrounding noise, your hearing issue might be in your ear’s ability to conduct sound or in your brain’s ability to process signals, or both.
Brain function, age, overall health, and the genetic makeup of your ear all play a role in your ability to process sound. You might be dealing with one of the following types of hearing loss if you have the annoying experience of hearing people talk but not being able to comprehend what they are saying.
Conductive Hearing Loss
You might be experiencing conductive hearing loss if you have to repeatedly swallow and tug on your ears while saying with growing irritation “There’s something in my ear”. The ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain is diminished by issues to the outer and middle ear including wax buildup, ear infections, eardrum damage, and fluid buildup. Depending on the severity of issues going on in your ear, you may be able to understand some individuals, with louder voices, versus hearing partial words from others speaking in normal or lower tones.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Where conductive hearing loss can be brought about by outer- and middle-ear problems, Sensorineural hearing loss affects the inner ear. Injury to the inner ear’s hair-like cells or the auditory nerve as well can stop sound signals from going to the brain. Sounds can seem too loud or soft and voices can sound too muddy. If you cannot distinguish voices from background noise or have a hard time hearing women and children’s voices in particular, then you may be experiencing high-frequency hearing loss.