Common hearing loss terms


Sensorineural Hearing Loss occurs when the sensory part of the ear (the inner ear and outer hair cells) or the neural part of the ear (nerve that runs from the ear up to the brain) lose their ability to function normally. This happens to many people as they age and from the “wear and tear” that we put on our hearing. It can also be congenital or occur from illness.


Conductive Hearing Loss occurs when there is something physically obstructing the ear canal or middle ear and sound cannot be effectively conducted through the canal and middle ear into the inner ear. Oftentimes conductive hearing loss is temporary, but there are some medical conditions where it is permanent. A few examples of conductive hearing loss are: having wax impacted in the outer ear canal, having fluid in the middle ear (from an ear infection), or having bony growths around or on the ossicles (middle ear bones).


Sudden Hearing Loss occurs all at once. There is no gradual loss of hearing; moreover people wake up in the morning and find that they cannot hear out of one of their ears at all. There are some diseases of the ear that present with this symptom, but not all causes of sudden hearing loss are known.


There are classes of drugs that can harm the hair cells in the inner ear and cause hearing loss. Certain mycin drugs, as well as chemotherapy drugs, can damage one’s hearing, especially in the high frequency range. Many doctors will do hearing testing to monitor their patients’ hearing throughout a cycle of chemotherapy.

Noise Exposure

Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) occurs when people work or play around loud noises for extended periods of time. Most often the damage occurs in the high frequencies, but leaving the low frequencies within the normal range. Some examples of noisy jobs are: factory work, presses, machinery, farm equipment, tools, pressure guns/tools. Some examples of noisy hobbies are: hunting, shooting, boating, working with engines/cars, concerts/music.

Acoustic Trauma

A one-time blast or very loud noise can permanently damage one’s hearing.

Physical Trauma

If there is physical damage to the ear or skull, hearing loss can be permanent or temporary due to the damages inflicted to the structures in the ear or brain.

How do hearing aids help with hearing loss?

Hearing aids are primarily useful in improving the hearing and speech comprehension of people who have hearing loss that results from damage to the small sensory cells in the inner ear, called hair cells.

This type of hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss. The damage can occur as a result of disease, aging, or injury from noise or certain medicines. A hearing aid magnifies sound vibrations entering the ear. Surviving hair cells detect the larger vibrations and convert them into neural signals that are passed along to the brain. The greater the damage to a person’s hair cells, the more severe the hearing loss, and the greater the hearing aid amplification needed to make up the difference.

However, there are practical limits to the amount of amplification a hearing aid can provide. In addition, if the inner ear is too damaged, even large vibrations will not be converted into neural signals. In this situation, a hearing aid would be ineffective.

What is a hearing Aid?

A hearing aid is a small electronic device that you wear in or behind your ear. It makes some sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities. A hearing aid can help people hear more in both quiet and noisy situations. However, only about one out of five people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one. A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The hearing aid receives sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker.

Hearing Aid Styles

The HCS program offers a choice in hearing care instruments to the patient.  We offer a wide variety of all styles of hearing aids from major manufacturers.   The HCS hearing care professional will assist the patient in determining the instrument best suited for the patient’s hearing loss

Invisible in the Canal (IIC)

Suitable ForMild to Moderate Hearing Loss

Overview – These instruments are 100% invisible when worn.. It sits deep within the ear canal, but intended for daily removal.

Completely in the Canal (CIC)

Suitable ForMild to Moderate Hearing Loss 

Overview – This is currently the smallest custom-made hearing instrument.  The shell is designed to fit deep inside your ear canal and be very discreet.  Often these devices are limited in the number of programs and options.

In the Canal (ITC)

Suitable For – Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss

Overview – This hearing instrument is custom-made to fit your ear.  It is slightly larger then the CIC.  This style provides access to multiple listening programs.  ITC instruments may be a little easier for some people to manipulate than CICs, though they are still small.

In the Ear (ITE)

Suitable For – Mild to Severe Hearing Loss

Overview – This style is also custom-made and fills your entire outer ear.  A full shell ITE provides access to telecoil and multiple listening programs.

Behind the Ear (BTE)

Suitable For – Mild to Profound Hearing Loss

Overview – This style fits behind your ear and comes in a variety of sizes.  It is attached to an earpiece, or earmold, that is custom-made for your ear.

Open Fit (Open or O-F)

Suitable For – Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss

Overview – The microphone and tubing of this type of hearing instrument are hidden in the ear’s natural contours, so the instrument is virtually invisible in the ear.  This unique microphone placement also provides natural suppression of wind noise.  Multi-venting allows air to travel freely in and out of the ear, ensuring an open, comfortable fit that makes your voice sound as natural as possible.

If you think you or a loved on might have a hearing loss, call 866-344-7756 today to schedule your FREE hearing evaluation with a provider near you.