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

If you can hear voices and make out some words but not others, or you can’t differentiate between a person’s voice and surrounding noise, your hearing issue might be in your ear’s ability to conduct sound or in your brain’s ability to process signals, or both.

Brain function, age, general health, and the genetic 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 processing or understanding what that person is saying you might be dealing with one or more of the following kinds of loss of hearing.

Conductive Hearing Loss

You could be suffering from conductive hearing loss if you have to continuously swallow and tug on your ears while saying with growing annoyance “There’s something in my ear”. The ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain is decreased by issues to the outer and middle ear like wax buildup, ear infections, eardrum damage, and fluid buildup. Depending on the seriousness of issues going on in your ear, you might be able to understand some people, with louder voices, versus hearing partial words from others talking in normal or lower tones.

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 from going to the brain. Sounds can seem too loud or soft and voices can come across too muddy. 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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