Do you wear hearing aids, but wonder if you’re hearing the best you can? You’re not alone. Consumer Reports indicates, based on real-ear probe-microphone measures, that two thirds of patients fit with hearing aids in the U.S. may have improperly fitting hearing aids.
Hearing Aids Fit to Manufacturers’ Specifications Are Not Ideal
That may be because many audiologists and hearing instrument specialists fit hearing aids based on the manufacturer’s specifications. These don’t take the individual’s unique needs into account though. For example, you may have a smaller ear canal than the average used in the specifications, which could result in over-amplification of sound. Or, if you have a larger ear canal, you may experience under amplification.
Specialized Equipment Is Necessary for Proper Diagnosis
Fortunately, there is a scientific and objective way to find out if your hearing aids are working as well as they should be. At Associated Audiologists we use specialized diagnostic and verification equipment, including real-ear probe microphone and speech mapping measures. This technology is considered a best practice among industry leaders.
Real-Ear Tests Help Fine Tune Your Hearing Aid’s Performance
A real-ear test, also called a real-ear measure, involves placing a thin probe microphone in your outer ear while you wear your hearing aid to measure whether it is responding appropriately to your level of hearing loss. Your audiologist also should test understanding of speech in both quiet and noisy areas, too. These tests are performed using a probe-microphone and real-ear measurement software, with the results showing graphs of what your hearing aid prescription should be compared to how well your hearing aids are actually performing.
These results are not estimates or general measurements. They are measurements depicting the real-ear output of the hearing aid for the specific individual. This comparison helps the audiologist make precise adjustments that can have a significant impact on your listening experience, ensuring that your hearing aid is programmed exactly for your hearing loss.
Bottom line - real-ear testing enables measurement of the sound delivered by a specific hearing aid in the ear canal of a specific individual. It helps us fine-tune your hearing aid prescription to your precise needs. Unfortunately, only about 30 percent of providers in the U.S. take the time and invest in the technology to use real-ear to verify how well the patient’s hearing aids are working.
Ask for Real-Ear Measurements and Speech Mapping
Be sure to ask your audiologist to perform real-ear measurements and speech mapping performance when your hearing aids are fit, and when recommended at follow-up appointments. This will ensure you get the most from today’s sophisticated digital technology.
In addition to verification, we also recommend you:
- Have realistic expectations. Depending on the severity of your hearing loss, you may never hear like you once did, even with the best technology. And though we are getting closer every day to digital technology that mimics natural hearing, it’s still not the hearing we were born with. A doctoral-level audiologist can help you better understand your specific hearing loss, and the benefits you can expect from the hearing technology you choose.
- Schedule regular hearing aid check-ups, usually every six to eight months and have your hearing aids cleaned and checked. You should also update your hearing test every 18 to 36 months.
- Assess your situation. If your hearing has changed, your hearing needs have changed, or if your technology is five years old or older, you may want to look into new hearing aid technology. Just like any digital device, new technology is constantly being introduced. There are a wide range of hearing aid styles packed with technology and features for every budget.
- Call immediately if you have a sudden change in your hearing. An audiologist should evaluate the problem and refer you to the appropriate specialist as soon as possible. At Associated Audiologists, we have a vast network of referring physicians and are on staff at several of the area’s top-rated hospitals so that we can provide you with access to the best care available.
- Regardless of the technology used, verification is essential for every hearing aid user and assures that you will get the most from your hearing aids.
Ninety-eight percent of patients surveyed said they would strongly recommend Associated Audiologists to a friend or relative with a hearing need, and 93 percent are satisfied with their hearing aids.