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Otoscope and hearing aid on audiogram printout

Are you looking into investing in hearing aids?

If the answer is yes, it can feel intimidating at first. There are a number of choices out there, and the obscure terminology doesn’t help.

That’s why we’re going to define the most common and important terms, so when you talk with your hearing professional you’ll be well prepared to pick out the ideal hearing aid for you.

Hearing loss and testing

High-frequency hearing loss – this is the most commonly encountered kind of hearing loss. People with high-frequency hearing loss have the most difficulty hearing higher frequency sounds, such as the sounds of speech.

Sensorineural hearing loss – this type of hearing loss develops when there is damage to the nerve cells of the inner ear. This is the most prevalent type of permanent hearing loss triggered by exposure to loud noise, the aging process, genetics, or other medical conditions.

Bilateral hearing loss – hearing loss in both ears, which could be symmetrical (the equivalent degree of loss in both ears) or asymmetrical (different levels of loss in each ear). Bilateral hearing loss is in most cases best treated with two hearing aids.

Audiogram – the graph which provides a visual description of your hearing testing results. The vertical axis measures decibels (volume) and the horizontal axis measures frequencies (pitch). The hearing consultant records the lowest decibel level that you can hear at each frequency. If you necessitate higher volumes to hear higher frequencies, your audiogram will show a sequence of high-frequency hearing loss.

Decibel (dB) – the unit used to measure sound level or intensity. Ordinary conversation registers at approximately 60 decibels, and prolonged direct exposure to any sound more than 80 decibels could cause irreversible hearing loss. Seeing that the scale is logarithmic, an increase of 6-10 decibels doubles the volume of the sound.

Frequency – represents pitch as measured in hertz. Think of moving up the keys on a piano, from left to right (low-frequency/pitch to high-frequency/pitch).

Threshold of hearing – The lowest decibel level that can be heard at each individual frequency.

Degree of hearing loss – Hearing loss is characterized as mild (26-40 dB loss), moderate (41-55), severe (71-90), or profound (91+).

Tinnitus – a relentless ringing or buzzing in the ears when no exterior sound is present. Often an indication of hearing damage or loss.

Hearing aid styles

Digital hearing aid – hearing aids that incorporate a digital microchip, utilized to custom-program the hearing aids to fit each individual’s unique hearing loss.

Hearing aid style – the type of hearing aid characterized by its size and location relative to the ear. Core styles include behind-the-ear, in-the-ear, and in-the-canal.

Behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids – the majority of hearing aid parts are contained inside of a case that rests behind the ear, connected to an earmold by a clear plastic tube. Mini-BTE hearing aids are also available.

In the ear (ITE) hearing aids – the hearing aid components are enclosed within a case that fits in the external part of the ear.

In the canal (ITC) hearing aids – the hearing aid components are contained in a case that fits inside of the ear canal. Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids are also obtainable that are nearly invisible when worn.

Hearing aid parts

Earmold – a piece of plastic, acrylic, or other pliable material that is molded to the contours of the individual’s ears, utilized for the fitting of hearing aids.

Microphone – the hearing aid component that picks up external sound and converts the sound waves into an electrical signal.

Digital signal processor – a specialized microprocessor inside a hearing aid that can adjust and enhance sound.

Amplifier – the part of the hearing aid that increases the volume of sound.

Speaker – the hearing aid part that delivers the magnified sound to the ear.

Wireless antenna – available in certain hearing aids, allowing for wireless connection to compatible equipment such as phones and music players.

Hearing aid advanced features

Variable programminghearing aid programming that enables the user to adjust sound settings according to the environment (e.g. at home versus in a chaotic restaurant).

Directional microphones – microphones that can center on sound originating from a specific location while reducing background noise.

Telecoils – a coil situated inside of the hearing aid that enables it to connect to wireless signals emanating from telephones, assistive listening devices, and hearing loops installed in public venues.

Noise reduction – functionality that helps the hearing aid to distinguish speech sounds from background noise, leading to the augmentation of speech and the suppression of distracting noise.

Bluetooth technology – permits the hearing aid to connect wirelessly with several devices, including smartphones, computers, MP3 players, and other compatible products.

Uncertain of which features you need, or which you could live without? Let us help you discover the ideal hearing aid for your distinct requirements. Give us a call today!