Hearing loss is not the same as turning down the volume of a sound. What usually happens is certain sounds, tones, and pitches become more difficult for you to hear.
What makes speech so hard to follow with a hearing loss is that it involves so many different sounds in a rapid flow.
Age related hearing loss (sensorineural hearing loss) initially effects the high frequency sounds. These high pitch sounds such as “s”, “f”, “sh” and “t” play a key role in our ability to understand speech clearly.
Without these high pitch speech sounds speech can sound muffled. This is why a person with this type of hearing loss will often say, “I can hear but I don’t understand what is being said”.
For example, if someone says “statue” and all you can hear is “s_a_ue”, you will be forced to try and guess the rest, by which time the conversation will have moved on.
Below are three illustrations which show the difference a hearing loss has on letters compared to a visual impairment.