Hearing Health Blog

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 someone’s voice and nearby noise, your hearing problem may 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 several factors like overall health, age, brain function, and genetics. You could be dealing with one of the following types of hearing loss if you have the annoying experience of hearing people talk but not being able to understand what they are saying.

Conductive Hearing Loss

When we tug on our ears, repeatedly swallow, and say over and over to ourselves with increasing annoyance, “There’s something in my ear,” we might be suffering from conductive hearing loss. Problems with the middle and outer ear such as fluid in the ear, a buildup of wax, ear infections, or damage to your eardrum all decrease the ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain. Depending on the seriousness of issues going on in your ear, you may be able to understand some individuals, with louder voices, versus catching partial words from others speaking 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. Sounds to the brain can be blocked if the auditory nerve or the hair like nerves are injured. Voices may sound slurred or muddy to you, and sounds can sound as either too high or too low. You’re suffering with high frequency hearing loss, if you have difficulty hearing women and children’s voices or cannot separate voices from the background noise.

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