What to Expect at Your Hearing Aid Fitting
It’s the big day! Today is the day you will be fit with your hearing aids. It’s likely you’ve already had some time with a demo hearing aid, but today starts the first day of your hearing wellness journey!
The hearing aids have been set up and charged, if necessary. If we are using disposable batteries, the batteries have been activated by peeling the sticker off and sitting out for five minutes. The proper acoustic couplings have been attached. In addition, I complete an electroacoustic analysis on the new devices prior to your visit. I want to be certain the hearing aids match manufacturer’s specifications.
We start by completing otoscopy and placing tiny probe microphones down in your ears followed by your hearing aids. Usually, I run a feedback test at this point which requires you to sit quietly while the hearing aids take some measurements of your ears.
I firmly believe in using best practices. One of these is called probe microphone measurements or real ear measurements (REM) or live speech mapping (LSM). Unfortunately, only 30% of hearing healthcare providers use this measurement. Using the REM equipment, I will measure what the prescribed software settings are doing in your ear, but it is imperative to use the patient’s ear canal properties to perform the best fit. Following this measurement, I start running more tests and making changes to the gain (i.e. volume) of the hearing aid. Another great part is live speech mapping. Typically, I use recorded speech, but we can use your spouse or your child’s speech as well. I can measure that soft, medium or loud speech is being amplified correctly.
The changes I make in this appointment are quite significant and more often than not, the patient will report everything is too loud. This is the time to have the discussion about brain adaptation and how the brain has become very accustomed to sounds much softer than they actually are. People tend to live with hearing loss for 7-12 years before they decide to seek out help. During this time, the brain has adapted to the current level of hearing, but luckily, our brains are plastic and can re-learn! That being said, I decrease the overall gains of the hearing aids to allow the brain to slowly acclimate to the new sounds.
We are nearing the end of the appointment. It’s time to demonstrate the cleaning and maintenance. Maintaining the hearing aids daily helps to keep them in tip top shape. We then practice inserting and removing the hearing aids. If the hearing aids have any type of Bluetooth connectivity, we may pair them to the phone/tablet at this time or we may wait until the first follow up appointment.
Lastly, the paperwork is signed verifying receipt of devices and we schedule our follow up appointments.