Hearing Aid Fittings: Why Real Ear Measurements are Important
Headphone design offers a personalized experience that works for many people – with small earbuds or over-the-ear pieces to deliver sound. If the sound is too quiet, then you can just turn up the volume to get the results you want.
But hearing aids don’t work the same way. Because headphone technology is universal, it’s common for people to assume that hearing aids are also a one-size-fits-all solution. If you need hearing support, it’s important to understand that the fitting and quality of the equipment will have a profound impact on the overall results that are achieved.
Hearing aids are more sensitive, with intricate features built into these devices to optimize a person’s hearing. If you are going to invest in hearing aids, then it’s important that you work with an industry expert to learn more about the specific sizing and details that will work best for your needs.
Shopping for Hearing Aids
A quick search online will uncover a variety of hearing aid products that can be purchased on demand. Just because the technology is available doesn’t mean that these products will solve your specific hearing concerns.
For example, if you are shopping for shoes, then there are standardized sizes, usually in whole and half increments. If you normally wear a size 9 shoe, then you will likely find a good fit using that size all the time – regardless of the brand or type of shoe you are choosing.
But hearing aid selection is more than making sure the equipment fits on your ear. You also need to consider other details about comfort, your range of hearing, and how the equipment will accommodate your personalized needs. The best solution is to work with an experienced audiologist who can perform the right testing and measurements to custom-design your hearing aids.
What are Real Ear Measurements?
Real Ear Measurement, sometimes referred to as probe microphone measurement, is a specialized process that uses a probe tube within the ear canal. This tube helps to measure the hearing aid volume when you are exposed to a variety of pitches and frequencies. A pitch-by-pitch measurement provides more accurate information so the hearing amplification can be customized depending on your needs.
The goal is to know how much volume you are receiving from the hearing aid when the pitches change. Not only is every patient unique, but every ear is unique. Just because certain hearing aid settings are good for one ear doesn’t mean that you should be using the same settings on the other ear.
Without the use of real ear measurement, it’s likely that your hearing aids will send volume that is too loud or too quiet at different pitches. Since it’s important to distinguish pitch variances for good audibility, you need hearing aids that are specifically adjusted to your hearing. Without audibility in a range of pitches, you will find it difficult to hear other people clearly when they are talking.
Factors Considered in Real Ear Measurement
When real ear measurement is used for customizing your hearing aid fit and setting, individual factors are considered:
- Ear canal size
- Ear canal shape
- Pitch variances
- Listening comfort
Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that you have an optimal experience listening to others around you. If you are going to invest in hearing aids, then these tools need to provide comfort while also allowing you to hear speech as clearly as possible. Through real ear measurement, we can customize the programming of your hearing aids – and make adjustments in the future if needed.
What to Expect During Real Ear Measurements?
There is no reason to feel worried or anxious about your appointment for real ear measurements. Here is an overview of what will happen during your office visit:
- First, a soft, small probe is inserted gently into the ear canal. The other end of the probe attaches to equipment that gathers information and data about different sounds and pitches.
- The goal is to place the end of this probe between the tip of your hearing aid and the eardrum. When the probe is positioned, then the hearing aid is placed in your ear.
- Next, you will hear speech coming from the real ear measurement equipment. This sound comes through the probe tube. You don’t need to do anything during this test – simply sit still and quiet while the equipment is working.
- During the test, our team reads information on the equipment display. The equipment shows us whether the target volume is reached for high, middle, and low pitches. This information helps us see if you are getting the right information from the hearing aids for the full spectrum of pitches.
- Now we can adjust the hearing aid settings to reach the target volume that is needed to improve your hearing.
This personalized process is used in hearing aid fittings because our goal is to ensure the satisfaction of our patients. We understand that hearing aid settings should be carefully adjusted for each patient. The settings and equipment that work great for someone else might not be the optimal fit for your ears.
These measurements are done during the initial fitting to get you to the settings that are “just right” for your hearing. The custom settings minimize the risk of you getting too much amplification in loud settings, while also ensuring that you can hear other people talking in both loud and quiet environments.
Personalized Hearing Aid Fitting
At Fairfax Hearing Center, our team is unique because we use real ear measurements for hearing aid fitting. Not all industry providers offer this service – which is one of the reasons why we stand out as one of the preferred teams in the local industry.
We offer everything you need, including hearing testing, diagnostics, and treatment recommendations. Through this personalized process, you will find that your lifestyle can improve in many ways because of your clear hearing. If you are interested in learning more about your options for hearing testing and hearing aids, then contact us at Fairfax Hearing Center to book an appointment.