Hearing Glossary: What You Should Know

The science of human hearing is a vast topic that comprises an incredible number of distinct topics and subtopics. While you don’t have to learn everything about hearing to understand hearing loss, there are a few important terms and definitions you should be familiar with so you can protect your hearing as much as possible.


An audiogram is a type of hearing test that is used to evaluate whether a person is experiencing hearing loss, and if so, how severe the problem is. An audiologist may elect to perform an audiogram on you as a part of your hearing evaluation.


This term can refer to people who are considered to be culturally Deaf (written with a capital ‘D’), meaning that they effectively have no useful ability to hear and typically communicate via sign language. People can also be considered audiologically deaf (with a lowercase ‘d’) when they have some ability to hear but need the assistance of other forms of communication as well.

Decibel (dB)

A unit denoting a measurement of sound. As the decibel level goes up, sound increases in intensity, where a measurement of 0 represents silence. According to hearing professionals, exposure to dB levels above 85 can cause hearing loss.

Hearing Aid

A broad category of digital devices worn in the ear that amplify sound for the wearer to improve hearing. There are several common types of hearing aids, including:

  • In-the-ear (ITE)
  • In-the-canal (ITC)
  • Behind-the-ear (BTE)

It’s important to note that hearing aids do not correct forms of hearing loss.

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a general term used to describe any form of damage to a person’s hearing. This can be from incredibly mild so as to be imperceptible to complete hearing loss with no residual hearing at all.


This is the term used to describe a type of progressive hearing loss related to aging. It is common in adults over 65, affecting approximately one-third of people in that age group.

Sign Language

Sign language refers to a series of visual movements using various parts of the body that communicate meaning in place of oral language. In the U.S., American Sign Language (ASL) is the most common form practiced.


A hearing condition that causes the sufferer to hear sounds such as ringing, buzzing or whirring in the ears when no external sound is present.

Understanding the basics is important, but it’s only the beginning of protecting your hearing health. If you think you may have any type of hearing loss no matter how mild or severe, it’s vital to undergo a comprehensive hearing exam as soon as possible. Contact U.S. Hearing Solutions today to schedule a consultation at one of our many convenient locations so that you can start to receive a customized hearing loss treatment program.