When your audiologist recommends hearing aids, selection is only the beginning of the process. Equally important is the fitting, which involves programming your hearing aids and making adjustments to provide the correct levels of amplification for your particular hearing loss. Counseling is a necessary step to ensure you have realistic expectations, and is crucial for long-term success.
What Is Hearing Aid Counseling?
Before you ever put on hearing aids, you’ll receive counseling to prepare you for this change in your lifestyle. While hearing aids will undoubtedly improve your communication abilities, it is important to understand they are not a cure for hearing loss, and do have certain limitations. Learning what to expect beforehand will help you achieve the maximum benefit from your devices.
How Are Hearing Aids Fitted?
Your audiologist at Northwest Ear Institute will check the physical fit to make sure they are comfortable. They will then be programmed and adjusted based on your hearing loss and lifestyle needs. The hearing aids will be placed in your ears and turned on, allowing your audiologist to measure the volume levels to ensure that you are hearing the full range of sounds properly.
Your audiologist will then discuss care and maintenance of your hearing aids. You will learn how to use them correctly and make adjustments for different hearing environments, insert and remove them, change the batteries and clean and care for them properly. You will also learn tips and strategies for better communication.
Are you satisfied with the performance of your hearing aid? Do you feel the quality meets your expectations? Unless your audiologist relied on real ear verification during the fitting process, your hearing device may not be living up to its full potential.
Hearing Aid Fitting
When fitting patients for hearing aids, real-ear measurements provide a level of accuracy unavailable with software programs. Real-ear verification takes into account an individual’s unique anatomy, such as ear canal volume, providing a true measurement of a hearing aid’s effectiveness for that patient’s specific hearing loss. Without an accurate assessment of a hearing aid’s amplification levels, a patient can walk away with a hearing aid that delivers substandard performance.
Yet, studies show that only approximately 40 percent of audiologists use real-ear verification technology. Why the reluctance to embrace a system that has been proven to provide the most accurate measurements available? For many audiologists, the answer amounts to time and money. The process can be time-consuming, especially for audiologists unfamiliar with the equipment, which can be expensive. Some audiologists believe the fitting algorithms included with the programming software are accurate enough, but these do not allow for real-ear target matching to measure the correct amount of hearing aid gain and output required, based on the patient’s level of hearing loss as well as their natural ear anatomy.
The process is actually fairly straightforward and, once mastered, should take fewer than five minutes per ear. A probe microphone is inserted into the ear, and hearing aid output is measured on a chart, where different test results (directional, noise reduction, feedback suppression and frequency lowering) can be compared. This objective process utilizes scientific data rather than guesswork to provide true data.
Northwest Ear Institute treats patients on an individual basis with their unique ear acoustics in mind, which is why we offer real-ear verification. We are committed to our patient-first philosophy, and we always go the extra mile to verify that your hearing aids are performing to the highest standard possible.
What Kind of Follow-Up Care Can I Expect?
A follow-up visit will be scheduled a few weeks after your initial fitting. During this appointment, your audiologist will fine-tune and adjust your hearing aids as needed and answer any questions you may have. It may take a while to adjust your hearing aids to their maximum effectiveness, so additional fitting appointments may be needed.
Call Northwest Ear Institute at (503) 444-7676 for more information or to schedule an appointment.