If you can hear voices and understand some words but not others, or you can’t distinguish between someone’s voice and nearby noise, your hearing issue could be in your ear’s ability to conduct sound or in your brain’s ability to process signals, or both.
Age, overall wellness, brain function, and the physical makeup of your ear all play a role in your ability to process sound. You may be dealing with one of the following kinds 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 increasing irritation, “something’s in my ear,” we may be experiencing conductive hearing loss. Problems with the middle and outer ear such as 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 issues going on in your ear, you might be able to make out some individuals, with louder voices, versus catching 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. Sounds to the brain can be stopped if the auditory nerve or the hair like nerves are injured. Voices might sound slurred or muddy to you, and sounds can come across as either too high or too low. You’re experiencing high frequency hearing loss, if you have difficulty hearing women and children’s voices or cannot separate voices from the background noise.