Otoscope and hearing aid on audiogram printout

Are you thinking of purchasing hearing aids?

If so, it can feel overwhelming at first. There are numerous options available, and the obscure terminology doesn’t help.

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

Hearing loss and testing

High-frequency hearing lossthis is the most prevalent form of hearing loss. Individuals with high-frequency hearing loss have the greatest trouble hearing higher frequency sounds, including the sounds of speech.

Sensorineural hearing loss – this form of hearing loss develops when there is injury to the nerve cells of the inner ear. This is the most prevalent form of permanent hearing loss brought on by exposure to loud noise, the aging process, genetics, or other health problems.

Bilateral hearing loss – hearing loss in both ears, which may be symmetrical (the same degree of loss in both ears) or asymmetrical (varied degrees of loss in each ear). Bilateral hearing loss is usually best treated with two hearing aids.

Audiogram – the graph which provides a visual representation of your hearing testing results. The vertical axis measures decibels (volume) and the horizontal axis measures frequencies (pitch). The hearing consultant 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 strength. Typical conversation registers at approximately 60 decibels, and continuous direct exposure to any sound above 80 decibels could result in 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. Imagine 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 can be characterized 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 exterior sound is present. Normally a signal of hearing injury or loss.

Hearing aid styles

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

Hearing aid style – the type of hearing aid defined by its size and location in relation 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 components are enclosed inside of a case that fits behind the ear, attached to an earmold by a clear plastic tube. Mini-BTE hearing aids are also available.

In the ear (ITE) hearing aids – the hearing aid parts are contained inside of a case that fits in the outer part of the ear.

In the canal (ITC) hearing aids – the hearing aid components are contained in a case that fits within 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 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 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 manipulate and enhance sound.

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

Speaker – the hearing aid part that supplies the enhanced sound to the ear.

Wireless antenna – available in certain hearing aids, enabling wireless connection to compatible gadgets such as smartphones and music players.

Hearing aid advanced features

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

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

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

Noise reduction – functionality that helps the hearing aid to differentiate speech sounds from background noise, leading to the enhancement of speech and the suppression of disruptive noise.

Bluetooth technology – allows the hearing aid to connect wirelessly with a number of devices, including mobile devices, 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. Give us a call today!

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