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Learning about Ears and Hearing Loss: Explanation of Terms


December 11, 2015

When dealing with hearing loss, it often feels like you’re learning a whole new language: terms and phrases get used a lot that at first will be unfamiliar to you. Good ear health is not just about taking steps in your everyday life to preserve or assist your hearing; it’s also about getting comfortable with the terminology, so you’ll be able to approach hearing test results and hearing loss treatment with more confidence. The following are explanations of some common terms that may come up:

Acute otitis media – Otherwise known as a common ear infection, it affects the middle ear, which is located behind the eardrum. Otitis refers to an ear inflammation and media means middle.

Audiometer – An electronic device used to measure and evaluate hearing acuity.

Chronic otitis media – A persistent middle ear infection, which can lead to continuous damage to the inner ear and eardrum.

Cochlear implant – Consists of two components: an internal component surgically inserted under the skin behind the ear with a narrow wire threaded into the inner ear, and an external component which connects to the internal component through the skin via an external magnetic disk. Cochlear implants are for patients with severe or profound hearing loss for whom a hearing aid doesn’t sufficiently help.

Conductive hearing loss – A type of hearing loss associated with problems of the ear canal, ear drum, or middle ear and its little bones.

Decibel – The unit of measure associated with sound. Typical hearing test results will be displayed in decibels.

Hearing aid – Used to assist in hearing, hearing aids range from very small devices that fit completely in the ear canal, to larger ones that are placed behind the ear and deliver sound via tubing and an earmold, to some that just use tubing to deliver the sounds or to locate a tiny loudspeaker in the ear canal.

Mixed hearing loss – A type of hearing loss made up of a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, meaning there could be other issues in the other areas of the ear or auditory nerve.

Otosclerosis – A genetic type of conductive hearing loss in which sound can’t transmit well due to an overgrowth of bone in the inner ear.

Sensorineural hearing loss – A type of hearing loss caused by problems of the inner ear, also known as nerve-related hearing loss.

Telecoil – A small copper coil included in hearing aids and cochlear implants which helps to bridge the physical distance between the patient and a sound source. It’s useful in situations when increasing the volume of a hearing aid or cochlear implant doesn’t necessarily increase the clarity of what the patient hears.

Tinnitus – A ringing, buzzing, or roaring noise in the ear brought on by noise-induced hearing loss or a number of other diseases or conditions.

If you need an audiogram or already have one, Resonance Hearing Aids can help with the next step. Contact them today.