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 somebody’s voice and nearby 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.

Your ability to process sound is governed by a number of factors such as overall health, age, brain function, and genetics. If you have the frustrating experience of hearing a person’s voice but not being able to process or understand what that person is saying you may be dealing with one or more of the following kinds of loss of hearing.

Conductive Hearing Loss

You may be suffering from 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 lessened by problems to the outer and middle ear including 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

In contrast to conductive hearing loss, which impacts the middle and outer ear, Sensorineural hearing loss impacts the inner ear. Sounds to the brain can be blocked if the auditory nerve or the hair like nerves are damaged. Voices could sound slurred or unclean to you, and sounds can come across as either too low or too high. If you cannot differentiate voices from background noise or have difficulty hearing women and children’s voices particularly, then you may be experiencing high-frequency hearing loss.

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