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Our staff has compiled some hearing loss and hearing aid terms so you can better understand your auditory health. If you have any questions about our products or our electronic hearing tests, please contact our office.

Acoustic Reflex

Reflexive tightening of the middle ear muscles in reaction to loud sounds.

Analog Circuit

An electronic circuit that preserves the form of the signal as it passes through the amplifier.


Graphic representation of hearing threshold sensitivity, developed as a result of pure tone tests. The audiogram is a grid with frequency in Hertz on the horizontal axis and the hearing level (HL) measured in decibles (dB) on the vertical axis.


Instrument used to measure hearing sensitivity by presenting single-frequency tones in graduated volumes.

Aural Atresia

No opening to the ear canal.


External or outer ear. Also known as pinna.

Beltone AVE.™

Beltone AVE.™ is a multi-media environment used to fit hearing instruments. It is incorporated right into Beltone’s SelectaFit fitting software. Beltone AVE.™ can be used during practically every stage of the fitting process from demonstration to fine-tuning, providing sophisticated tools to assist the practitioner in addressing patient concerns.

Bone Conduction

Transmission of sound to the cochlea using an oscillator/vibrator placed on the mastoid bone behind the ear.


Behind-the-ear hearing instrument. The hearing instrument is worn behind the ear and connects to the ear canal using a custom-fitted earpiece.


Ear secretion, also called earwax.


Fatty tumour-like mass in the middle ear.


Completely in-canal hearing instrument.


Electronics of the hearing instrument, including microphone, amplifier, speaker and the necessary controls for volume and frequency modification.


The sensory organ of hearing. The cochlea and vestibular organs make up the inner ear.


A change in the amount of gain a hearing instrument circuit provides. Usually compression means reducing the gain, but in some WDRC circuits, it may mean increasing the gain. Compression occurs in all non-linear circuits.


Bowl of the outer ear, surrounding the opening to ear canal. Part of the pinna.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Hearing loss caused by disease or damage to the outer and/or middle ear. Some of the factors that can damage the outer or middle ear are growths or tumours in the ear canal, earwax build-up, punctured ear drums, recurring ear infections, frequent colds, otosclerosis or skull fractures.

Contralateral Acoustic Reflex

The reflex response when a stimulus is presented to the opposite ear from where the response is measured.

Decibel (dB)

A measurement of sound intensity (loudness). Decibels are shown on the audiogram as dB HL, meaning “decibels of hearing level,” and shown on hearing instrument specifications as dB SPL, meaning “decibels of sound pressure level.”

Digital Circuit

An electronic circuit that changes the form of the signal into binary code (1s and 0s) before it passes through the Digital Signal Processor (amplifier).

Ear Canal

Canal extending from the outer ear to the tympanum (eardrum). Also known as external auditory meatus.

Ear Canal Volume

Volume of air in the ear canal, measured in cubic centimeters.

Ear Impression

Casting made of the pinna and ear canal used to create a hearing instrument shell or earmold (BTE models).


Common name for cerumen, a waxy secretion of the ear canal.


Common name for the tympanic membrane, a thin membrane at the end of the ear canal. Sound vibrations move the eardrum, which in turn vibrates the bones of the middle ear.


Connects the BTE instrument to the earmold or earpiece and hooks over the ear.

External Auditory Meatus

Canal extending from the outer ear to the tympanum (eardrum). Also known as the ear canal.


Ridge running around the inside of the outer ear.


Hearing Threshold Level.

Inner Ear

The part of the ear containing the sensory organ of hearing – the cochlear, and the balance centre – the semi-circular canals.

Input Compression

A type of compression that reduces gain based on the input signal at the microphone.

Insert Earphones

Earphones with probes that fit into the ear canal rather than cups.

Interaural Attenuation

Loss of sound energy as a signal is transmitted by bone conduction from one side of the head to the other.


In the Ear. Hearing instrument that fits within the outer ear.


Loudness Discomfort Level. Highest volume level acceptable to patient. Exceeding this level causes discomfort. Under headphones, the results are expressed in dB HL (hearing level), with probe microphone, in dB SPL (sound pressure level).

Linear Circuit

A hearing instrument circuit that provides the same amount of gain, regardless of input levels of sound.

Loudness Growth

A measurement showing an individual’s judgment of how loud a range of sounds are, from threshold (the softest audible sound) to loudness discomfort (LDL).


The use of noise presented to one ear while testing the sensitivity of the other. This reduces or eliminates the transfer of sound from the test ear to the non-test ear.

Middle Ear

The part of the ear containing the eardrum, ossicles, middle ear space and Eustachian tube.


Surgical procedure, making an opening in the eardrum to equalize pressure.

Non-linear Circuit

A hearing instrument circuit that provides different amounts of gain, depending on the input or output levels of sound. Non-linear circuits use compression.


The three bones in the middle ear – malleus, incus, stapes. The smallest bones in the body.

Otitis Externa

Inflammation of the outer ear.

Otitis Media

Inflammation of the middle ear.

Otoacoustic Emission

Low-level sound emitted by the cochlea. May be evoked by auditory stimulus (sound) or occur spontaneously.


Cotton ball, secured by string, used to protect the eardrum from impression material during the earmold impression taking process.


An instrument used for visual examination of the outer ear and ear canal. The video otoscope uses a small camera to capture and transmit an image to a video monitor. This allows the patient or third party to view inside their own ear.


Visual inspection of the ear.

Outer Ear

The part of the ear containing the pinna and ear canal.


External or outer ear. Also known as auricle.

Pure Tone

Sound wave with a single frequency of vibration.

Sensorineural Loss

Hearing loss caused by damaged hair cells in the cochlea. Some of the factors that can cause hair cell damage or deterioration are noise exposure, viral infection and aging. This type of loss may be helped by amplification.

Serous Otitis Media

A common cause of conductive loss due to an accumulation of fluid in the middle ear that impairs sound conduction. It may arise as the result of a cold, allergies or other condition. Chronic cases should be referred to a physician.


The softest level at which a person can respond to a particular sound.


A graphic representation of eardrum mobility.


An instrument that measures the flexibility or compliance of the eardrum. It also tests reflexes – the ear’s ability to react and to recover from loud, short-duration sounds.


Procedure used in the assessment of tympanum and middle ear function by measuring the eardrum’s reaction to pressure variances.


The eardrum or tympanic membrane.

Video Otoscopy

A visual inspection of the ear using a camera mounted in a tiny probe.

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