Hearing Screening Resources - Minnesota Department of Health

Hearing Screening Resources and Glossary

Hearing and Vision Screening Quick Reference Guide

The Quick Reference Guide is available as a PDF download.

Online Hearing Resources

Ambient noise: Background noise present in the screening area

Amplification: The use of hearing aids and other electronic devices to increase the loudness of a sound

ASHA: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Audiogram: A graph used to record the lowest decibel of a sound, at select frequencies, heard by a subject

Audiologist: A professional who specializes in preventing, identifying, and assessing hearing impairments as well as managing any non-medical rehabilitation of individuals with hearing loss

Audiometer: An instrument used to measure hearing

Auditory nerve: The eighth cranial nerve in the human body, which sends signals from the cochlea to the brain

Atresia: Closure or absence of the external auditory canal; imperforation (having no opening)

Automated auditory brainstem response (ABR): A non-invasive hearing test used for the diagnosis of hearing loss and screening infants and children who are at high risk for hearing loss; The ABR is conducted with external electrodes, which capture the neurotransmission of auditory stimuli from the external ear to the auditory cortex; it may require sedation

Calibration checks: Methods to determine the accuracy of an audiometer, the two primary methods are:

  • Biological - Checking the hearing in one ear with the right and left headphones
  • Electronic - Measurement of the absolute sound pressure levels of each frequency and other characteristics, e.g. harmonic distortion, frequency count, rise-fall time

Cochlea: A snail shaped, fluid-filled capsule that contains the organ of hearing, located in the inner ear

Cochlear implant: An electronic device surgically implanted in the inner ear that stimulates the cochlea to receive sound

Compliance: A measurement of tympanometry, which depicts tympanic membrane mobility

Congenital hearing loss: Hearing loss which is either present at birth, is associated with the birth process, or develops in the first few days of life

Decibel (dB): A measurement unit that expresses the intensity (loudness) of a sound

ENT: A medical provider specializing in the care of ears, nose, and throat, sometimes referred to as an otolaryngologist or otologist

External auditory canal: Portion of the ear anatomy that extends from the auricle and external meatus to the tympanic membrane

Frequency: A measurement of the number of sound vibrations per second, expressed in Hertz (Hz), commonly known as the pitch of the sound

Hearing aid: An electronic device that conducts and amplifies sound to the inner ear

Hearing loss: Hearing loss is when the softest or lowest decibel (16dB or more) someone can hear is louder than the sound (0 to15dB) someone with normal hearing can hear. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) classifies hearing loss as follows:

  • 0-20 dB: normal
  • 21-25 dB: slight
  • 26-40 dB: mild
  • 41-55 dB: moderate
  • 56-70 dB: moderately severe
  • 71-90 dB: severe
  • 91+ dB: profound

Hertz (Hz): The unit of measurement, which specifies the frequency of sound waves

High-risk: Children who have one or more of the risk factors known to impact hearing

Inner ear: Portion of the ear anatomy internal to the middle ear and consisting of the cochlea, semi-circular canals, and vestibules

Intensity: The loudness of a sound, measured in decibels (dB)

Lost to follow-up: When a child does not receive or complete the recommended diagnostic or intervention process

Loudness: Refers to intensity

Middle ear: Portion of the ear anatomy that extends from the tympanic membrane to the inner ear, which is a hollow cavity and contains the ossicles

Middle ear clearance: When a medical provider has determined that the middle ear is free from fluid and appears healthy

Mixed hearing loss: A combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss

Noise: Any sound that is unwanted, undesired, or interferes with one's hearing

Ossicles: Malleus, incus, and stapes bones, located in the middle ear cavity; crucial to sound conduction

Otitis media: Inflammation of the middle ear and/or the tympanic membrane

Otoacoustic emissions (OAE): A noninvasive hearing screening tool that evaluates the presence of a cochlear response to the conduction of sound, which can be indicative of normal hearing; used in infants and young children who are unable to be screened with pure tone audiometry; does not diagnose hearing loss

Otoscope: Instrument used to examine the ear canal and tympanic membrane

Outer ear: Portion of the ear anatomy that extends from the pinna to the tympanic membrane and includes the auricle and external auditory canal

Ototoxic: Refers to conditions and medications that have the potential to damage the cochlea, auditory nerve, and sometimes the vestibular system of the ear

Pinna: External (visible) portion of the ear anatomy, sometimes called the auricle

Pitch: Refers to frequency

Play audiometry: A modification of pure tone audiometry screening used with young children and/or developmentally delayed individuals

Preauricular sinus: A tiny pit in the skin in the area where the outer rim of the ear (called the helix) attached to the face; preauricular sinuses can be an indicator of other ear problems

Pure tone audiometry: A method of hearing screening used to identify children with suspected hearing loss by having the child listen to a series of pure tones and noting whether or not there is a response; considered the 'gold standard' of hearing screening

Pure tone: A tone of a single frequency produced by an audiometer, contains no harmonics or overtones

Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss due to pathology of the cochlea, auditory nerve, or auditory cortex; is usually irreversible

Skin tag: A growth of skin tissue often near the ears, or elsewhere on the face or neck, is usually small, soft, and skin-colored; in rare cases skin tag(s) are associated with hearing problems

Threshold: The softest (minimum) decibel at which an individual is able to respond to a tone (frequency) at least 50 percent of the time

Threshold audiometry: A hearing test performed to determine thresholds at specific frequencies; MDH recommendations are to perform thresholds at 500, 1000, 2000, 4000, and 6000 Hz

Tympanic membrane: A thin membrane between the external auditory canal and the middle cavity; moves in response to sound waves and sets the ossicles bones in motion

Tympanometry: An objective measurement of middle-ear mobility and middle ear pressure using sound (probe tone) and air pressure

Updated Thursday, 16-Jun-2022 11:14:12 CDT