Hearing Health Blog

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

If you can hear sounds and make out some words but not others, or you can’t differentiate between someone’s voice and surrounding 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 governed by a number of variables such as overall 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 speak but not being able to understand what they are saying.

Conductive Hearing Loss

You might be experiencing conductive hearing loss if you have to continuously swallow and yank on your ears while saying with increasing annoyance “There’s something in my ear”. The ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain is decreased by issues to the middle and outer ear such as wax buildup, ear infections, eardrum damage, and buildup of fluid. You may still be capable of hearing some people with louder voices while only partly hearing people with lower voices depending on the severity of your hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Where conductive hearing loss can be triggered by outer- and middle-ear problems, Sensorineural hearing loss impacts the inner ear. Injury to the inner ear’s hair-like cells or the auditory nerve itself can stop sound signals to the brain. Voices may sound slurred or muddy to you, and sounds can come across as either too high or too low. If you cannot separate voices from background noise or have a hard time hearing women and children’s voices in particular, then you may be experiencing high-frequency hearing loss.

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