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

If you can hear sounds and understand some words but not others, or you can’t distinguish between somebody’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.

Your ability to process sound is governed by several variables such as general health, age, brain function, and genetics. You may be dealing with one of the following kinds 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 yank on our ears, continuously swallow, and say over and over to ourselves with growing irritation, “There’s something in my ear,” we may be suffering from conductive hearing loss. Issues with the outer and middle ear such as fluid in the ear, earwax buildup, ear infections, or eardrum damage all decrease the ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain. Depending on the severity of problems going on in your ear, you may be able to make out some people, with louder voices, versus catching partial words from others speaking in normal or lower tones.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

In contrast to conductive hearing loss, which affects the middle and outer ear, Sensorineural hearing loss impacts the inner ear. Injury to the inner ear’s hair-like cells or the auditory nerve as well can block sound signals to the brain. Sounds can seem too soft or loud and voices can sound too muddy. If you can’t separate voices from background noise or have difficulty hearing women and children’s voices particularly, then you may be suffering from high-frequency hearing loss.

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