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

If you have a hearing issue, it may be a problem with your ear’s ability to conduct sound or your brain’s ability to process signals or both depending on your specific symptoms.

Brain function, age, overall health, and the physical makeup of your ear all play a role in your ability to process sound. If you have the annoying experience of hearing 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 repeatedly swallow and tug on your ears while saying with growing annoyance “There’s something in my ear”. Issues with the middle and outer ear such as fluid in the ear, earwax buildup, ear infections, or damage to your eardrum all diminish the ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain. Depending on the seriousness of problems going on in your ear, you may be able to make out some people, with louder voices, versus catching partial words from others speaking in normal or lower tones.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Where conductive hearing loss can be caused by outer- and middle-ear issues, Sensorineural hearing loss impacts the inner ear. Damage to the inner ear’s hair-like cells or the auditory nerve as well can stop sound signals to the brain. Sounds can seem too loud or soft and voices can sound too muddy. If you cannot separate voices from background noise or have difficulty hearing women and children’s voices in particular, then you may be experiencing high-frequency hearing loss.

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