If you can hear voices and make out 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.
Age, overall wellness, brain function, and the physical makeup of your ear all contribute to your ability to process sound. You might be dealing with one of the following types 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 tug on our ears, continuously swallow, and say again and again to ourselves with growing annoyance, “something’s in my ear,” we might be suffering from conductive hearing loss. Issues with the middle and outer ear such as fluid in the ear, earwax buildup, ear infections, or eardrum damage all diminish the ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain. You might still be able to hear some people with louder voices while only partly hearing people with lower voices depending on the severity of your hearing loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
In contrast to conductive hearing loss, which affects the middle and outer ear, Sensorineural hearing loss impacts the inner ear. Injury to the inner ear’s hair-like cells or the auditory nerve itself can stop sound signals to the brain. Voices could sound slurred or muddy to you, and sounds can sound as either too high or too low. You’re experiencing high frequency hearing loss, if you have a hard time hearing women and children’s voices or can’t separate voices from the background noise.