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eContact! 9.4 — Perte auditive et sujets connexes / Hearing (Loss) and Related Issues

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Hearing (Loss): Glossary


The terms listed below are those that are the most relevant to musicians or to the music field. WP indicates an external link to a Wikipedia article or category. Follow the Wikipedia category links for extensive lists of terminology related to hearing, with links to Wikipedia articles. Also consult the Resources in this WIKI for a variety of information online.


ACOASMA (Acousma)

A nonverbal auditory hallucination, such as a ringing, buzzing or hissing. Also spelled acouasm or acosm. (Truax, 1999)



Permanent hearing loss through deterioration of hair cells in the organ of corti. Such damage usually results from brief exposure to intense noise, in particular those of high frequency.


Frequencies in the 4000 Hz range are the most dangerous, since an exposure of only five to ten minutes at 120 dB may produce a Threshold Shift (see below) of 40 dB. The range of TS in excess of 40 dB is said to be the region of possible acoustic trauma. In addition to the occupational hazards of industrial noise, recreational exposure to heavily amplified music can also be serious enough to produce acoustic trauma.


(Truax, 1999)



Complete deafness in one or both ears.



Test given by professional audiologist to determine degree of hearing loss/damage.


See the Hearing Tests page in this WIKI.


See the Hearing Tests page in this WIKI.



Also see WP



Together with the organ of corti, the main sensing mechanism of the ear. See Truax, 1999.


BERA (Brainstem Evoked Response Audiometry)

See the Hearing Tests page in this WIKI.



Recommended maximum noise levels for given exposure periods, such that occupational deafness is minimized. Recent investigation has shown that average sound levels are not an adequate indicator of hearing risk. See Truax for more information.



Chart detailing the differences in SPL of tones across the entire hearing range which produce the sensation in the subject (subjective interpretation) that the tones are sounding at the same “loudness”.



Also see WP



Also see WP



An aural deficiency in which the pitch of a single tone is heard doubly (i.e., as two different pitches) by the two ears. The cause of this phenomenon is a loss of sensitivity in one ear in a certain frequency range, thus causing it to perceive pitches differently. (Truax, 1999)



See the Earplugs page in this WIKI.



Also see WP category



A number of things can lead to hearing loss, some common reasons are listed below. Consult http://eMedicine.com for more detailed list.

  • Disease: babies who contract syphilis from the mother during pregnancy or at birth may have hearing loss (in such cases, this can be treated at early stages)
  • Environmental noise (particularily in industrialised countries)
  • Illness involving high fever (eg. meningitis); Neurofibromitosis, type two: genetic defect which attacks nerves, and prefers auditory nerves
  • Inherited
  • Medication
  • Occupational
  • Trauma
  • Tumor

A number of side effects of hearing loss may be noted, including:

  • loss of employment (when verbal communication and/or hearing is inherent to the job);
  • self-inflicted isolation/solitude, due to shame or frustrations of communicational difficulties.

Buzzing can be caused by hearing loss, medication...


Also see the Hearing Tests page in this WIKI.



Also see WP



Various tests can be done by (usually) an audiologist to determine the degree of hearing loss or damage in the individual.


See the Hearing Tests page in this WIKI.



Also see WP



Damage to the cochlea caused by an acoustic trauma (a single event which causes more or less immediate and permanent damage; see above, Acoustic Trauma) or developing gradually. A decline in the sensitivity of hearing occurs to a degree which is beyond the normal rates due to age and other factors. Typically the upper hearing range will be affected initially, with the lower range of hearing affected afterwards. While most common in the adult working population, NIHL also occurs amongst youth and young adults.


In the vast majority of cases NIHL is preventable. In many countries there are occupational regulations to protect workers and prevent or limit NIHL. The amount of time a worker can be exposed to loud sound and equipment to be worn when exposed are regulated in some fields and industries, including the music milieu.


Also see WP



The area of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of ailments of the ear, nose and throat.


Also see WP category



The area of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of ailments of the ear. A branch of Otolaryngology.


Also see WP category



The gradual loss of hearing as one ages. Normally, men are affected earlier and to a greater degree than women. In the past this discrepancy has been explained by the proportion of men to women in the workforce, as men on average were exposed to more environmental noise than women.


Also see WP



The study of the perceptive and cognitive processes of hearing.



On exposure to noise, the ear’s sensitivity level will decrease as a measure of protection. This process is referred to as a shift in the threshold of hearing, meaning that only sounds louder than a certain level will be heard. The shift may be temporary, chronic or permanent.


Susceptibility to TS varies greatly from person to person, men generally being more sensitive to low frequency sounds, and women more susceptible to high frequencies. Sounds in the 2–6 kHz range seem to induce greater temporary threshold shift (TTS) than other frequencies. Also called aural fatigue.


One of the body’s reactions to loud sounds is a constriction of the blood vessels (vasoconstriction) which reduces the blood supply reaching the hair cells of the organ of corti. The outer rows of hair cells respond mainly to low intensity sound levels and thus are easily saturated by loud sounds, particularly when their source of blood is diminished. This leaves only the inner rows of hair cells working since they need a higher intensity for stimulation.


Thus, TTS implies a temporary hearing loss for low level sounds (somewhat analogously to the protective closing of the iris in bright light and the resulting temporary desensitization to low light levels). If the outer hair cells are not allowed to recover through periods of quiet, they gradually lose their ability to respond and eventually die. TTS may also be accompanied by Tinnitus, a ringing in the ears.


  • Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS): During short exposure to noise, most people experience a rise in the auditory threshold which normally disappears in 24 hours, but may last as long as a week.
  • Permanent Threshold Shift (PTS) or Noise Induced Permanent Threshold Shift (NIPTS): After prolonged exposure to noise, permanent hearing damage may result in the inner ear.
  • Chronic Threshold Shift or Compound Threshold Shift: If exposure to noise occurs repeatedly without sufficient time between exposures to allow recovery of normal hearing, TS may become chronic, and eventually permanent. This is a particular danger when people who work in noisy environments are exposed to further noise afterwards in driving, at home and at places of entertainment.


(Truax, 1999)


TINNITUS (aka Ménière disease).

Ringing in the ears, typically heard only by the individual, there are many causes from the outer ear and ear drum through to the auditory center. It is known as a symptom of certain conditions (including exposure to loud sounds) and the side-effect of numerous medications. A search on Google brings more than 850,000 hits.


Also see WP



Sound Pressure Level.



Primary Sources





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