Although hearing aid technology has improved significantly during the last decade, hearing aid user satisfaction has not increased at the same rate! More than one million of these patients are not “satisfied” with their hearing instruments and confess to leaving them “in the drawer.” If hearing aid technology and design have improved, why are people not having an improved experience?
Hearing aids require precision and customization to maximize results for patients. Individual ears are very different between patients, and occasionally one ear can even differ from the other ear on the same patient! Those differences have a major effect on the benefit a hearing instrument provides to the wearer. The only way to truly account for those individual ear differences is, to take a physical measurement of how your hearing aid is amplifying sound in the specific ear canal. Real ear measurements make this possible, and that is why they are considered the “gold standard” method for achieving a proper hearing aid fit.
When we do real-ear measurements, we start by putting a thin, soft tube into the ear canal and playing a sound to measure how the size and shape of the ear affects and changes the sound. Next, we put the hearing aid into the ear and play speech and other sounds to see what amplified sound looks like as it arrives at the ear drum. Finally, we make appropriate adjustments based on the patient’s audiogram, the response we see on the computer screen and, the patient’s feedback as to how the hearing aid sounds. The results are hearing aid settings that are best suited for the size and shape of your ear and for your hearing loss.
When a real-ear measurement isn’t made, we are simply guessing, that the sound levels are appropriate. According to evidence based practice, the best audiological care cannot be provided without the use of real-ear measurements.This is why it’s important to find a provider who consistently uses the real-ear measurement as part of their fitting protocol.