Hearing & Balance Doctors

Why Can I Hear But Not Understand?

You can hear people talking, the language is coming at you, but it feels like cotton is stuffed in your ears, muffling what you should be able to understand. You’re not alone—and there is a solution to help this hearing loss you’re dealing with.

Why Can I Hear But Not Understand?

by | Jun 28, 2024 | Hearing Loss, Patient Resources

One of the most common questions we get in our clinics is “Why can I hear but not understand?” 

It’s understandable to be confused—when you’re in a quiet room having a conversation, you can hear your conversation partner perfectly well. But transfer that into a busy restaurant, and suddenly you can’t hear quite as clearly as before. Background noise can interfere with our hearing more significantly than we think.  

We compare it to your eyesight worsening: you’re not suddenly blind, but you can’t see as clearly as you could before. You can hear, just not as well as you could previously, or in a different listening environment. 

Quite often, you’re missing sounds in a very specific frequency, or “pitch range.”  

As we get older, we lose hearing in higher frequencies—meaning the pitch of certain sounds, not the volume. If you have a high-frequency hearing loss, it means that you’re missing high-pitched sounds, not high-volume sounds! 

Different pitches of voices can also affect our hearing. Perhaps you’re talking to your wife, or your daughter, and you realize that some of the words she’s saying feel jumbled or you’re interpreting them incorrectly. Missing the high frequencies in hearing loss might feel like they’re “mumbling” when they’re not actually—you hear the sound, but not as clear as you expect. 

This gradual hearing loss is a natural part of presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss. It’s often exacerbated by noise exposure over the years as we live our lives to the loudest and fullest. For most people, between the ages of 55 and 70 is when our ear cells start to deteriorate fastest, and when hearing loss becomes most prevalent. 

If you’re reading this, perhaps you’re wondering what’s going on. You can hear people talking, the language is coming at you, but it feels like cotton is stuffed in your ears, muffling what you should be able to understand. You’re not alone—and there is a solution to help this hearing loss you’re dealing with. 

The Role of Hearing Aids 

Getting your hearing back to the way it was requires a bit of assistance. Advanced prescription hearing aids can help you regain understanding of the language you’re missing and rejoin the conversations with your friends and family. 

Today’s hearing aids can help audit the sounds you’re hearing and organize them to make sure you’re hearing what you want to hear. Let’s go back to that busy restaurant—overwhelming with all the background noise, right? 

Some models of hearing aids recognize where the background voices are and lessen their volume in your ears so you can hear what the people in front of you are saying, loud and clear. No more accusations of mumbling when the sound is clearer than ever. 

Hearing aids aren’t just for individuals with profound hearing loss, just like how glasses aren’t just for individuals with severe sight challenges. Even those with mild hearing loss can benefit from the help of hearing aids boosting their hearing to optimum levels of clarity. 

Hearing aids will help you regain a lot more sounds than you think—including some that you didn’t realize you were missing.  

The learning curve of reteaching your brain about the sounds you were missing isn’t steep; you’ll hear your jacket rustling, dishes hitting the sink, but your brain will learn to selectively dampen those noises in comparison to what your brain needs to hear. This process is called “auditory rehab,” and it typically takes about a month to adjust to all the new sounds you’re listening to.  

Get back to focusing on the important sounds by continuing to wear your hearing aids—and you’ll find that you’ll be able to both hear and understand the world around you. 

Concerned About Your Hearing? 

Our team at Hearing & Balance Doctors is happy to help you with any and all hearing loss challenges. Whether you’ve noticed your balance is unsteady, your ears are ringing, or you can’t quite hear as well as you used to, we’re here to assist you in treating your hearing loss challenges. 

The sooner you start your hearing health journey, the sooner you’ll get back to hearing the life you love. 

For any questions about hearing care, or to talk to a professional about your unique hearing needs, please feel free to request a callback and a member of our team will get in touch with more information. 

Don’t want to wait? Find your nearest location and call us in:  

Utah: (435) 688-8991
Nevada: (702) 896-0031 

Hearing Test

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Dr. Richard Luekenga

Dr. Luekenga opened Hearing & Balance Doctors of Utah in 2005. Since that time he has been dedicated to creating state-of-the-art facilities filled with the latest technology along with the most qualified and caring hearing healthcare team. He received his Doctor of Audiology from the University of Louisville School of Medicine. His doctorate is supported by his B.A. at Utah State University, clinical fellowship at Bountiful Hearing Center and further clinical experience at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital, IHC Hearing and Balance Center, The Kosair Children’s Hospital, Heuser Hearing Institute (Deaf Oral School), and Avada Hearing and Balance Center, to name a few. With this long list of experience, it is clear that Dr. Luekenga is very passionate about good hearing and is well-versed in the advances of hearing aid technology. He is equally as passionate about helping patients that feel off-balance, dizzy, lightheaded, or unsteady, and understands the need these patients have to get back on their feet! Additionally, he provides counseling and therapy for patients who experience tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in their ears).

    Request a Callback