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Hearing Health Glossary

Learn more about the important terms and topics related to your hearing health.

Hearing Health Glossary

Introduction to hearing terms

From audiogram to tinnitus, find all the terms commonly used for hearing loss and hearing aid technology.Throughout your hearing loss journey, you’re likely to come across new and unfamiliar terms related to hearing loss and hearing impairment. Understanding both the meaning of these terms and how they relate to your health is crucial—it’ll help you have productive conversations with your care team and become an advocate for yourself and others. Explore these important terms and resources:

Hearing health conditions

A wide variety of health conditions related to your ears can cause hearing loss. Learn more about types of hearing problems and the causes of hearing loss. 

A disorder that makes it difficult for the brain to interpret auditory information, potentially interfering with speech as well as hearing. This disorder  influences brain function, and can affect cognitive function, creating a greater risk of developing dementia.


The ability to recognize, compare and distinguish between different sounds. Hearing loss can make it more difficult to differentiate between high and low-frequency sounds, making some words harder to distinguish than others. Learn more about why you may be mishearing words here. 

An infection or inflammation of the outer or middle ear, caused by bacteria, pneumonia, the flu, viruses, a cold or allergies. Ear infection symptoms include congestion and swelling of the nose, throat and eustachian tubes. This condition is also known as otitis media

Inflammation of the inner ear and the nerves that connect the area to the brain. Labyrinthitis can lead to vertigo, dizziness and hearing loss. 

A chronic inner ear disorder related to a build-up of fluid in the inner ear. Ménière's disease can lead to recurring bouts of vertigo, ear pressure, tinnitus, fluctuating and/or permanent hearing loss. 

See ear infection, above.

A genetic hearing condition that causes abnormal growth in the bones of the middle ear (ossicles, see definition under Hearing anatomy), resulting in conductive hearing loss in one or both ears.

A genetic hearing loss disorder resulting in malformations of the inner ear and gradual hearing loss in children. 

Gradual hearing loss in both ears that occurs with age.

A type of tinnitus (see Tinnitus, below) characterized by a perceived whooshing or thumping sound synced to the heartbeat. Pulsatile tinnitus is usually caused by conditions that affect blood flow.

A type of tinnitus (see Tinnitus, below) that can be heard by both the person experiencing it and another observer.

A kind of tinnitus that’s only heard by the person experiencing it and can be perceived in one or both ears.  

Also known as otitis externa, swimmer’s ear is an infection, inflammation or irritation caused by water becoming trapped in the ear, commonly after swimming. 

The perception of sounds that have no external source, commonly described by individuals as ringing, roaring, humming or buzzing in the ears.

A rare genetic condition that affects both hearing and vision. It is associated with abnormal development of the hair cells of the inner ear, causing hearing loss. 

A condition that causes the sensation of  movement that isn’t actually happening, commonly described as dizziness or spinning. Vertigo is often related to tinnitus and other inner ear conditions. 
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Hearing health terminology

As you learn more on your hearing health journey, there will be a lot of terms that you’ll see and hear often. Whether they come up in conversations with your hearing care team or as you do more research on your own, it’s helpful to be familiar with their meanings. 

 A healthcare provider who has specialized training at the doctoral level in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of hearing and balance disorders. Learn more about Miracle-Ear’s team of audiologists.

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