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

If you can hear voices and make out some words but not others, or you can’t distinguish 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 capability of processing 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 frustrating experience of hearing a person’s voice but not being able to process or understand what that person is saying you could be dealing with one or more of the following types of loss of hearing.

Conductive Hearing Loss

You might be suffering from conductive hearing loss if you have to repeatedly swallow and yank on your ears while saying with growing irritation “There’s something in my ear”. Issues with the outer and middle ear such as fluid in the ear, earwax buildup, ear infections, or damage to your eardrum all decrease 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

Where conductive hearing loss can be induced by outer- and middle-ear problems, 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 difficulty hearing women and children’s voices or can’t differentiate voices from the background noise.