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 differentiate between a person’s voice and nearby 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.

Brain function, age, general health, and the genetic makeup of your ear all contribute to your ability to process sound. If you have the aggravating experience being able to hear a person’s voice but not processing or understanding what that person is saying you might be experiencing 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 increasing irritation “There’s something in my ear”. Issues with the outer and middle ear such as fluid in the ear, a buildup of wax, ear infections, or eardrum damage all reduce the ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain. 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 impacts 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 damaged. Voices could sound slurred or muddy to you, and sounds can sound as either too low or too high. You’re experiencing high frequency hearing loss, if you have difficulty hearing women and children’s voices or cannot differentiate voices from the background noise.