If you can hear sounds and make out some words but not others, or you can’t differentiate between someone’s voice and surrounding noise, your hearing problem 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 a number of variables like overall health, age, brain function, and genetics. You could 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 understand what they are saying.
Conductive Hearing Loss
When we yank on our ears, repeatedly swallow, and say again and again to ourselves with increasing annoyance, “There’s something in my ear,” we may be suffering from conductive hearing loss. Problems with the outer and middle ear like fluid in the ear, a buildup of wax, ear infections, or damage to your eardrum all diminish the ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain. Depending on the severity of problems going on in your ear, you might be able to understand some people, with louder voices, versus catching partial words from others speaking in normal or lower tones.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Unlike conductive hearing loss, which affects the middle and outer ear, Sensorineural hearing loss affects the inner ear. Sounds to the brain can be blocked if the auditory nerve or the hair like nerves are injured. Sounds can seem too loud or soft and voices can come across too muddy. You’re suffering with high frequency hearing loss, if you have a hard time hearing women and children’s voices or can’t differentiate voices from the background noise.