If you can hear sounds and understand some words but not others, or you can’t differentiate between a person’s voice and nearby noise, your hearing problem might be in your ear’s ability to conduct sound or in your brain’s capability of processing signals, or both.
Brain function, age, overall health, and the genetic makeup of your ear all contribute to your ability to process sound. You may 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 comprehend what they are saying.
Conductive Hearing Loss
You may be experiencing conductive hearing loss if you have to continuously swallow and yank on your ears while saying with increasing irritation “There’s something in my ear”. Problems with the middle and outer ear like fluid in the ear, earwax buildup, ear infections, or eardrum damage all reduce the ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain. You might still be capable of hearing some people with louder voices while only partially hearing people with lower voices depending on the severity of your hearing loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
In contrast to conductive hearing loss, which affects the middle and outer ear, 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 to the brain. Sounds can seem too soft or loud and voices can sound too muddy. You’re suffering with high frequency hearing loss, if you have difficulty hearing women and children’s voices or cannot distinguish voices from the background noise.