If you can hear sounds and make out some words but not others, or you can’t differentiate between somebody’s voice and nearby noise, your hearing issue 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 influenced by a number of variables like general health, age, brain function, and genetics. If you have the frustrating experience of hearing a person’s voice but not being able to process or understand what that person is saying you could be dealing with one or more of the following kinds of loss of hearing.
Conductive Hearing Loss
When we yank on our ears, repeatedly swallow, and say again and again to ourselves with growing aggravation, “something’s in my ear,” we might be suffering from conductive hearing loss. Issues with the outer and middle ear like 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 impacts 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 block sound signals to the brain. Voices could sound slurred or muddy to you, and sounds can sound as either too high or too low. If you cannot separate voices from background noise or have a hard time hearing women and children’s voices in particular, then you might be experiencing high-frequency hearing loss.