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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 distinguish between a person’s voice and surrounding 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.

Brain function, age, general health, and the physical makeup of your ear all play a role in your ability to process sound. If you have the frustrating experience being able to hear a person’s voice but not being able to process or understand what that person is saying you might be dealing with one or more of the following types of loss of hearing.

Conductive Hearing Loss

When we yank on our ears, continuously swallow, and say over and over to ourselves with increasing irritation, “There’s something in my ear,” we could be suffering from conductive hearing loss. The ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain is decreased by issues to the outer and middle ear such as wax buildup, ear infections, eardrum damage, and fluid buildup. 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 affects the middle and outer ear, Sensorineural hearing loss affects the inner ear. Damage to the inner ear’s hair-like cells or the auditory nerve as well can block sound signals to the brain. Sounds can seem too soft or loud and voices can come across too muddy. If you cannot differentiate voices from background noise or have difficulty hearing women and children’s voices particularly, then you may be suffering from high-frequency hearing loss.

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