Entering the world of hearing aids comes with some major adjustments, including getting to know the lingo. Between technical terms for hearing loss and specific technological hearing aid parts, it can be overwhelming. Have no fear! We are here to break down some of the more common jargon used.
- Telecoil (T-Coil): The telecoil is a small wire, usually made of copper. They are activated through a t-switch and allow electric currents to flow when in a changing magnetic field. T-coils are used both within hearing aids as well as supplements outside of the hearing aid since they do not just amplify sound. Instead, T-coils pick up on additional magnetic currents otherwise missed by your ear.
- Microphone: The microphone picks up on the sounds around you. The sounds are then run through an amplifier then onto a receiver, then finally to your brain to decipher the message.
- Amplifier: Amplifiers, similar to telecoils, can be part of a hearing aid or independent. However, unlike telecoils, they only increase volume. They do not address muffled sounds or distortion.
- Receiver: Receivers are the actual speaker portions of hearing aids. They are able to convert the amplified sounds to sounds waves, which can then travel to the brain.
- Ear mold: This is a piece of material made of flexible plastic that is molded to your ear canal and outer ear. It is the part of the hearing aid that actually goes inside of your ear, and is usually clear or tan colored to allow it to blend in with your ear.
- Ear hook: The ear hook is a thin tube that goes around the outside of the ear connecting the internal and external parts of the hearing aid.
- Behind the Ear (BTE): This acronym represents the standard style of hearing aid you might think of when picturing a hearing aid. The ear mold is on one end inside of the ear with the ear hook connecting externally to the battery box.
- Pressure equalization tubes: These tubes, also called tympanostomy tubes, are placed inside of the eardrum to ensure that the pressure within the middle ear is equal to atmospheric pressure. Children who experience frequent ear infections often have these tubes placed to help elevate pressure. The tubes often fall out on their own without the need for surgery.
- Cochlear implant: Cochlear implants are electronic devices placed inside of the ear to make up for the damaged portions of the inner ear. They send signals to the inner brain, as opposed to simply amplifying sounds like hearing aids would do. Depending on your type of hearing loss or ear damage, you may or may not be eligible for a cochlear implant.
- Hertz (Hz): Hertz represent the pitch or frequency of a sound. Technically, it is the number of cycles per sounds. The average person can hear 20 to 20,000 cycles per second.
- Decibel (dB): Decibels are the ratio of sound levels. The louder a sound, the higher the decibel. Higher decibel sounds can cause hearing loss, so try to limit your exposure!
- Acuity: Auditory acuity refers to the clarity of your hearing. If your acuity is low, your audiologist may recommend hearing aids.
As you can see, understanding hearing loss doesn’t have to be so confusing!
By: Diana Michel