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Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss: Glossary

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 21:04

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Here are definitions of medical terms related to hearing loss.

Acoustic nerve: The nerve that leads from the inner ear to the brain, serving as the pathway for the nerve impulses that the brain will interpret as sound; also called the eighth cranial or auditory nerve

Acoustic neuroma: A common tumor of the acoustic nerve (which serves as the pathway for hearing); it can cause hearing loss, can compress the brainstem and other nerves, and can usually be cured with surgery

Audiogram: A hearing test usually performed in a soundproof room; the person wears earphones and tones are presented to each ear, one at a time

Audiologist: A health professional with at least a master's degree that studies the sense of hearing, detects and diagnoses hearing loss, and works to help individuals with hearing loss

Auditory canal: The channel in the ear

Cochlea: A hollow tube in the inner ear that is coiled to resemble a snail's shell; it contains thin fluid and the organ of Corti, and it is where sound vibrations picked up by the middle ear are carried

Conductive hearing loss: Hearing loss due to any condition that interferes with the transmission of sound through the outer and middle ear to the inner ear; this type of hearing loss can be successfully treated in most cases

Eardrum: A thin membrane covered by skin that separates the outer ear from the middle ear; also called the tympanic membrane

Ear tubes: Small metal or plastic tubes inserted into the eardrum to ventilate the middle ear, or to allow the fluid from the middle ear to drain through the ear canal

Eustachian tube: The tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat; its function is to equalize the air pressure in the ear

Meniere's syndrome: A condition characterized by fluctuating hearing loss (usually more prominent in the lower frequencies where we hear speech), dizziness, fluctuating ear pressure, and tinnitus (a noise sensation heard in one or both ears)

Myringotomy: A small incision made into the eardrum to allow fluid to drain from the ear

Organ of Corti: The part of the inner ear that contains thousands of hair-like cells; it functions as the switchboard of the hearing system by responding to different sound frequencies and converting them to nerve impulses

Ossicles: The chain of three small bones that connects the eardrum to the inner ear; the bones are the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus), and the stirrup (stapes)

Otolaryngologist: A physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries of the ears, nose, and throat

Otolaryngology: A branch of medicine dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the ears, nose, and throat, and adjacent structures of the head and neck

Otology: The medical specialty of ear medicine and surgery; a sub-specialty of otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat medicine)

Pinna: The trumpet-shaped outer part of the ear on each side of the head; also called the auricle

Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss in which the damage lies in the inner ear, the acoustic nerve, or both; also called "nerve deafness"

Tinnitus: A noise sensation heard in one or both ears; it can be a sign of an underlying disorder but can occasionally occur for no apparent reason

Vestibular labyrinth: The portion of the inner ear that functions as part of the body's balance mechanism

Hearing Loss