If you can hear voices and understand some words but not others, or you can’t distinguish between someone’s voice and surrounding noise, your hearing problem could 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 determined by several factors such as overall health, age, brain function, and genetics. If you have the aggravating experience being able to hear 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 types of loss of hearing.
Conductive Hearing Loss
When we tug on our ears, repeatedly swallow, and say again and again to ourselves with increasing annoyance, “There’s something in my ear,” we could be suffering from conductive hearing loss. Issues with the outer and middle ear such as fluid in the ear, earwax buildup, ear infections, or damage to your eardrum all reduce the ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain. 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
In contrast to conductive hearing loss, which affects the middle and outer ear, Sensorineural hearing loss impacts the inner ear. Sounds to the brain can be stopped if the auditory nerve or the hair like nerves are damaged. Sounds can seem too loud or soft and voices can sound too muddy. You’re suffering with high frequency hearing loss, if you have a hard time hearing women and children’s voices or cannot distinguish voices from the background noise.