Woman can't hear the television while watching with friends.

If you can hear voices and understand some words but not others, or you can’t distinguish between somebody’s voice and nearby noise, your hearing problem may 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 physical makeup of your ear all contribute to your ability to process sound. 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 may be dealing with one or more of the following kinds of hearing loss.

Conductive Hearing Loss

When we tug on our ears, repeatedly swallow, and say over and over to ourselves with growing aggravation, “There’s something in my ear,” we could be experiencing conductive hearing loss. Issues with the middle and outer ear like fluid in the ear, earwax buildup, ear infections, or damage to your eardrum all reduce the ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain. Depending on the severity of problems going on in your ear, you could be able to understand some people, with louder voices, versus hearing partial words from others talking in normal or lower tones.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

In contrast to conductive hearing loss, which impacts the middle and outer ear, Sensorineural hearing loss impacts the inner ear. Damage to the inner ear’s hair-like cells or the auditory nerve itself can block sound signals from going to the brain. Voices could sound slurred or unclean to you, and sounds can sound as either too low or too high. You’re suffering with high frequency hearing loss, if you have difficulty hearing women and children’s voices or can’t distinguish voices from the background noise.

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