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Terminology

Hearing Overview and Terminology

Hearing aids are distinguished by their technology or circuitry. In the early days, hearing aid technology involved vacuum tubes and large heavy batteries. Today, there are microchips, computerization, and digitized sound processing, used in hearing aid design.

Overview

About Analog Hearing Aids
  • Conventional analog hearing aids are designed with a particular frequency response based on your audiogram. The audiologist tells the manufacturer what settings to install. Although there are some adjustments, the aid essentially amplifies all sounds (speech and noise) in the same way. This technology is the least expensive and it can be appropriate for many different types of hearing loss.
  • Analog programmable hearing aids have a microchip which allows the aid to have settings programmed for different listening environments such as quiet conversation in your home, noisy situations like a restaurant, or large areas like a theater. The audiologist uses a computer to program the hearing aid for different listening situations depending on your individual hearing loss profile, speech understanding, and range of tolerance for louder sounds.

Some aids can store several programs. As your listening environment changes, you can change the hearing aid settings by pushing a button on the hearing aid or by using a remote control to switch channels. The aid can be reprogrammed by the audiologist if your hearing or hearing needs change. These aids are more expensive than conventional analog hearing aids, but generally have a longer life span and may provide better hearing for you in different listening situations.

About Digital Hearing Aids

  • Digital programmable hearing aids have all the features of analog programmable aids but use "digitized sound processing" to convert sound waves into digital signals. A computer chip in the aid analyzes the signals of your environment to determine if the sound is noise or speech and then makes modifications to provide a clear, amplified distortion-free signal. Digital hearing aids are usually self-adjusting. The digital processing allows for more flexibility in programming the aid so that the sound it transmits matches your specific pattern of hearing loss. This digital technology is the most expensive, but it allows for improvement in programmability, greater precision in fitting, management of loudness discomfort, control of acoustic feedback (whistling sounds), and noise reduction.

Terminology

RIC: The receiver-in-the-canal device is small, discreet, and incredibly quick to fit; perfect for many first-time wearers.
  • Comfortable open fit
  • Sleek design barely visible when worn
  • Color choices to match your hair, skin tone and lifestyle
  • For mild to moderate hearing loss
  • Switches modes seamlessly to match your listening environment
  • Improved speech understanding with the industry's top-rated feedback canceler

RIC AP: Receiver-In-Canal Absolute Power. The receiver-in-canal Absolute Power instrument combines a custom-formed ear mold with the sleek, sophisticated receiver-in-canal instrument allowing people with even the most severe hearing loss to enjoy style without sacrificing power and performance.

  • Ultimate power and performance
  • Replaces large behind-the-ear products for power needs
  • For moderate to severe hearing loss
  • Discreet, barely visible when worn
  • Color choices to match your hair, skin tone and lifestyle
  • Switches modes seamlessly to match your listening environment
  • Improved speech understanding with the industry's top-rated feedback canceler

BTE: Behind the Ear. Major components are housed outside the ear. Initially popular years go, this style is agin becoming popular due to their flexibility.

ITE: In the Ear. In-the-ear instruments house the technology components in a custom-formed ear mold that fits within the outer portion of the ear.

  • Easy to adjust — ideal for those with limited manual dexterity
  • Appropriate for mild to mildly severe hearing loss
  • Custom made just for you

ITC: In the Canal. In-The-Canal instruments feature an ear mold that fits down into the ear canal and a smaller portion that faces out into the outer ear.

  • Less visible
  • Appropriate for mild to mildly severe hearing loss
  • Variety of technology level choices that previously required a larger aid
  • Custom made just for you

CIC: Completely in the Canal. These devices fit completely in the canal. Only the head of a tiny plastic line—with which you insert or remove the instrument—shows above the canal.

  • Fits completely in the ear canal and is virtually invisible
  • Appropriate for mild to mildly severe hearing loss
  • Custom made just for you
  • Requires some manual dexterity

Tinnitus: Ringing in the ears or another noise which seems to originate in the ears or head. Tinnitus is due to diverse causes including ear infections, fluid in the ears, Meniere syndrome, medications such as aspirin and other steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), aging, and ear trauma from the noise of jets, firearms, or loud music. In rare situations, tinnitus may reflect an aneurysm, or an acoustic neuroma (a benign tumor on the acoustic nerve).

Woodwind players are more likely to experience tinnitus than other orchestral players, probably because they usually sit in front of the bass.

Whistle: Also known as acoustic feedback. Annoying acoustic feedback occurs when the amplified sound exiting the speaker in the hearing aid (or receiver) is picked up again by the microphone. Sounding like a whistle or squeal, it can be embarrassing and annoying.

Feedback: Feedback is the annoying (to hearing people) squeal that your hearing sometimes makes. The cause is that some of the sound produced by the speaker is finding its way back to the microphone and being re-amplified. Then it emerges from the speaker, into the microphone, more amplification, and pretty soon the squeal starts! The newest digital hearing aids are feedback free instrument on and off the telephone. Another name for feedback is whistle, or the feedback sound the hearing aid makes.