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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 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 several variables such as general health, age, brain function, and genetics. You could be dealing with one of the following types of hearing loss if you have the frustrating experience of hearing people talk but not being able to comprehend what they are saying.

Conductive Hearing Loss

When we tug on our ears, continuously swallow, and say over and over to ourselves with increasing irritation, “There’s something in my ear,” we might be experiencing conductive hearing loss. Problems with the middle and outer ear such as fluid in the ear, a buildup of wax, ear infections, or damage to your eardrum all diminish the ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain. You may still be able to hear some people with louder voices while only partly 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 injured. Sounds can seem too loud or soft and voices can come across too muddy. If you can’t distinguish voices from background noise or have difficulty hearing women and children’s voices particularly, then you may be experiencing high-frequency hearing loss.