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 a person’s voice and surrounding noise, your hearing problem may be in your ear’s ability to conduct sound or in your brain’s ability to process signals, or both.

Brain function, age, overall health, and the genetic makeup of your ear all play a role in your ability to process sound. If you have the frustrating experience being able to hear a person’s voice but not being able to process or understand what that person is saying you could be experiencing one or more of the following kinds of loss of hearing.

Conductive Hearing Loss

You may be experiencing conductive hearing loss if you have to continuously swallow and tug on your ears while saying with growing irritation “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 such as wax buildup, ear infections, eardrum damage, and buildup of fluid. You may still be able to hear some people with louder voices while only partially hearing people with lower voices depending on the severity of your hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Unlike conductive hearing loss, which affects the middle and outer ear, Sensorineural hearing loss affects the inner ear. Sounds to the brain can be stopped if the auditory nerve or the hair like nerves are injured. Sounds can seem too loud or soft and voices can sound too muddy. If you cannot differentiate voices from background noise or have a hard time hearing women and children’s voices in particular, then you might be suffering from high-frequency hearing loss.

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