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

If you can hear sounds and make out some words but not others, or you can’t differentiate between somebody’s voice and surrounding noise, your hearing problem could 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 influenced by a number of factors like general health, age, brain function, and genetics. You may be dealing with one of the following kinds of hearing loss if you have the frustrating experience of hearing people speak but not being able to understand what they are saying.

Conductive Hearing Loss

When we yank on our ears, continuously swallow, and say over and over to ourselves with growing annoyance, “something’s in my ear,” we might be suffering from conductive hearing loss. The ear’s ability to conduct sound to the brain is decreased by problems to the middle and outer ear such as wax buildup, ear infections, eardrum damage, and buildup of fluid. Depending on the seriousness of issues going on in your ear, you might be able to understand some people, with louder voices, versus catching partial words from others talking in normal or lower tones.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Unlike conductive hearing loss, which affects the middle and outer ear, Sensorineural hearing loss affects the inner ear. Injury 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 come across too muddy. 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.

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