If you can hear sounds and understand some words but not others, or you can’t distinguish between somebody’s voice and nearby 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 governed by a number of variables like overall health, age, brain function, and genetics. You might 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, repeatedly swallow, and say again and again to ourselves with growing irritation, “There’s something in my ear,” we might be experiencing conductive hearing loss. Issues with the middle and outer ear such as fluid in the ear, earwax buildup, ear infections, or eardrum damage all decrease the ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain. You may still be capable of hearing 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 brought on by outer- and middle-ear issues, Sensorineural hearing loss affects the inner ear. Damage to the inner ear’s hair-like cells or the auditory nerve itself can block sound signals to the brain. Voices could sound slurred or unclean to you, and sounds can come across as either too high or too low. If you cannot distinguish voices from background noise or have difficulty hearing women and children’s voices particularly, then you may be suffering from high-frequency hearing loss.