Hearing Aids Glossary
Analogue is the conventional signal found in many hearing devices. Analogue aids can be conventional or programmable. Conventional analogue aids do not distinguish different sounds and therefore amplify all sounds equally, which means some sounds are too loud while others may be difficult to hear. This is rectified when the hearing aid user adjusts the volume.
If an analogue system is programmed it allows settings to be saved that the user can switch to depending on the listening environment. As an example, one program will work during a conversation, while the other may work best while in the theatre. Some hearing aids are equipped with many different programs to allow the user to adjust the aid, depending on the listening situation.
Assistive Listening Devices
These are a variety of instruments that assist in hearing. Phones for the hard of hearing, clocks, baby monitors, FM systems and amplifiers are just a few examples of ALDs.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids
These aids sit behind your ear and are connected to an ear mold placed inside your ear via tubing. BTE devices are fastened on the ear with an ear hook and the ear molds are custom made to fit the user's ear. BTE hearing aids are known for being robust and durable. They are practical in that they have the ability to produce a lot of power.
Body-Worn Hearing Aids
These aids use an external box worn by the user. The user wears and an ear piece which is attached to the box by a wire. These aids benefit some as they do not block the ear canal, have the ability to use a large battery, and therefore are often recommended for those with severe hearing loss.
Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHA)
Bone anchored hearing aids (BAHA) transfer sound through a bone in the skull directly into the cochlea through a 'bone-conduction' process. A small device is implanted surgically behind the ear in the skull of the recipient. A case is located externally which holds a microphone and a sound processor. This case transmits sound to the bone, which goes directly to the cochlea. One of the benefits of BAHAs is that the ear canal in the recipient remains unblocked. Recipients who may benefit from BHHA's are those that have conductive or mixed hearing loss or those who have single-sided deafness (SSD).
A specific part of the internal ear.
Cochlear implants are surgically implanted into a person's inner ear. External components are either body-worn or behind the ear. The external component sends signals to the implant through the skin, which are then recognized as sound by the brain instantaneously. The process sends sound in the ear through nerve stimulation by avoiding damaged cells and by using an electrical signal.
Cochlear implant recipients must have severe or profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears to receive cochlear implants.
Completely in the Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids
The whole hearing aid is placed completely inside the canal. CICs are extremely tiny in size and are almost invisible. Some people due to their canal shape or size are unable to wear these types of devices.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Hearing impairment caused by interference with sound or transmission through the outer and/ or middle ear. This type of hearing loss can result from a variety of means including disease, infection and trauma.
A unit of measurement that relates to sound.
Launched in the United States in 1996, many believe that the digital system has revolutionized hearing. Digital translates sound to digital code, changes it and re-transmits it back by using mathematical calculations. This relatively new technology has revolutionized hearing devices by duplicating sound transmission. Digital technology is praised for producing a quality sound that has increased accuracy.
Disposable Hearing Aids
The disposable aid has a built-in battery and, after the allotted hour or time usage, the user simply replaces the entire aid.
Feedback is sometimes experienced by hearing aid wearers and is best described a high-pitched screeching sound.
One person wears a small microphone and transmitter that sends sound directly to the hearing aid and receiver using a wireless FM transmission. An FM system can work great in a classroom, at a conference or while on a tour as it allows the person to hear the speaker's voice above disruptive background noise.
In the Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids
These are placed in ones ear. They are often used by those who suffer moderate hearing loss. Some people who have extremely small ears may not find these models suitable.
In the Canal (ITC) Hearing Aids
ITC aids are placed inside the canal. They are often larger and slightly more visible than CIC devices. Some people due to their canal shape or size are unable to wear these types of devices.
Middle Ear Implants (MEI)
A device is planted into the middle ear through surgery. The implant works in conjunction with an external case that can be worn behind the ear or sometimes in the ear. The process works by vibrating the bones in the middle ear. MEI implants work well because they keep the ear canal and ear unblocked. MEI candidates can have a mild to profound loss of sensorineural hearing.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Involves both conductive and sensorineural parts of the hearing system. Medical treatment in conjunction with hearing amplification may be recommended.
Hearing aid wearers often complain that their voice sounds odd and distorted as if they are speaking in a tunnel. This odd sound of hearing one's voice with a hearing aid is commonly referred to as occlusion and is caused when sounds cannot escape from the canal due to blockage.
Hearing aid programs offer various sounds for a variety of listening environments. As an example, one program may be for conversations, another for the telephone and a third for noisy situations. An aid can come with numerous programs and the wearer may manually change back and forth between different programs, although some are able to switch automatically.
Sensorineural Hearing loss
Is often called nerve loss, and refers to hearing loss due to disorders of the inner ear or auditory nerve itself. This type of hearing loss can result from a variety of means including aging, noise, disease, infection or trauma. Often, hearing amplification is recommended.
T-Switch or Telecoil
Telecoils are optional on most hearing aids and assist in telephone conversations. The T-switch or telecoil is a small wire inserted into a hearing aid. The telecoil is used to improve telephone communication and it can be used with other assistive devices to enhance television and stereo enjoyment.