Otoscope and hearing aid on audiogram printout

Are you looking into investing in hearing aids?

If the answer is yes, it can seem overwhelming at first. There are several options out there, and the obscure terminology doesn’t help.

That’s why we’re going to make clear the most common and significant terms, so when you talk with your hearing professional you’ll be well prepared to find the ideal hearing aid for you.

Hearing loss and testing

High-frequency hearing loss – this is the most common kind of hearing loss. Patients with high-frequency hearing loss have the greatest difficulties hearing higher frequency sounds, like the sounds of speech.

Sensorineural hearing loss – this type of hearing loss develops when there is injury to the nerve cells of the inner ear. This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss brought on by direct exposure to loud noise, aging, genetics, or other medical conditions.

Bilateral hearing loss – hearing loss in both ears, which may be symmetrical (the equivalent level 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 that provides a visual description of your hearing assessment results. The vertical axis measures decibels (volume) and the horizontal axis measures frequencies (pitch). The hearing professional captures the lowest decibel level you are able to hear at each frequency. If you require higher volumes to hear higher frequencies, your audiogram will show a sequence of high-frequency hearing loss.

Decibel (dB) – the unit utilized to measure sound level or intensity. Typical conversation registers at around 60 decibels, and continuous exposure to any sound in excess of 80 decibels could cause irreversible hearing loss. And since the scale is logarithmic, an increase of 6-10 decibels doubles the volume of the sound.

Frequency – represents pitch as measured in hertz. Picture 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 labeled as mild (26-40 dB loss), moderate (41-55), severe (71-90), or profound (91+).

Tinnitus – a continual ringing or buzzing in the ears when no external sound is present. Frequently a sign of hearing injury or loss.

Hearing aid styles

Digital hearing aidhearing aids that include a digital microchip, used to custom-program the hearing aids to match each individual’s distinct hearing loss.

Hearing aid style – the type of hearing aid characterized by its size and location relative to the ear. Main 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 enclosed within a case that fits 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 outside part of the ear.

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

Hearing aid parts

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

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

Digital signal processor – a specialized microprocessor within 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 enhanced sound to the ear.

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

Hearing aid advanced features

Variable programming – hearing aid programming that allows the user to change sound settings depending on the environment (e.g. at home versus in a busy restaurant).

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

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

Noise reduction – functionality that assists the hearing aid to distinguish speech sounds from background noise, leading to the augmentation of speech and the inhibition of disruptive noise.

Bluetooth technology – permits the hearing aid to connect wirelessly with a number of devices, including smartphones, computers, audio players, and other compatible devices.


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. Call us today!

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