When you are diagnosed with hearing loss, here where you start considering the treatment options available. The most common treatment possibility is the hearing aid.
This selection process usually starts with an assessment of your condition and needs, followed by recommendations based on those needs. It finishes with follow-up visits to facilitate customizing programming of the hearing aids. Let us have a look at the different stages of hearing aid fitting:
i) Hearing aid selection
Hearing test results
The test you perform will be charted on an audiogram.
It indicates the level of hearing loss and what extent the damage is.
It shows at what volume exactly you can hear certain tones.
It also shows the ability to understand words. Both words and tones are essential to understand your specific hearing needs.
We all know there are different degrees of hearing loss. This will help determine which style best suits your condition and what features of the device benefit the most.
There are also different styles of hearing aids. The technology being used, and all the advancements being made all the time affect the type. These different hearing aid styles are:
Preferences and expectations
The hearing care professional will have an in-depth consultation with you to understand more your lifestyle, personal preferences, thoughts and expectations.
It is very important for your provider to have a clear picture of the lifestyle you prefer. For example:
If you spend lot of time talking on the phone, they can help you choose hearing aids that work well with the phone.
If you spend lot of time in the water, you will want waterproof hearing aids.
If you spend lot of time in the office, a hearing aid with assistive listening devices is recommended because it eases group conversations.
If you play sports and want a hearing aid without any external component, you can select completely-in-canal hearing aid.
The hearing test you performed, along with all this aforementioned information, will allow the audiologist to pull together all the presented options for you to check and review.
There are a lot of options and features that you can consider when selecting the right hearing aid:
Invisible hearing aids
Large hearing aids
Hearing aids with rechargeable batteries
Hearing aids with disposable batteries
Hearing aids with controlled volume
Hearing aids with automated technology
Hearing aids with remote control or Bluetooth connectivity
Hearing aids with smartphone control via hearing aid apps
After discussing your needs, you will be presented by your hearing care professional with recommended options with different prices. Prices vary based on the different features and technology presented in the hearing aids.
Molding the hearing aids
It is very important for your hearing aids to fit your ears perfectly. There are distinctive shapes and sizes of ears. That is why it is very vital to ensure that the mold of the hearing aid is the right shape and size in order to provide the perfect fit.
The audiologist takes a mold of your ear and sends it to be designed. It is a custom piece of material that conforms to the contours of the outer ear. Once it is made, the audiologist will attach the hearing aid to the earmold so you can obtain a device that is custom shaped to the shape of your ear.
ii) Initial hearing aid programming
When your chosen hearing aid arrives at the hearing center, the audiologist hooks it up to the computer and fine-tunes it according to your preferences and hearing loss. Some of them perform real ear measurement to make sure the amplification levels are correct and accurate.
They insert a tube that is inserted into the ear canal.
This tube is connected to a microphone that measures the volume of sound coming near the eardrum. The audiologist will test your reaction to these sounds.
Following this, the hearing aid is fitted with the tube at the same time. The audiologist does so to make sure that the hearing aid is giving the right reaction to loud and soft sounds once the amplification is balanced correctly.
Having asymmetrical hearing loss requires several appointments to get the sound quality right and create programs for certain sound settings at different environments. It involves placing tiny microphones inside the ear canals to measure the output of the hearing aids in the ears and making the right adjustments.
iii) Adjusting to the hearing aids
This is the final part of the hearing aid fitting. Reprogramming or some physical adjustments are done for comfortable wear.
Adjusting to hearing aids often takes time. At first, you might hear everything is too loud. It takes time for your brain to relearn which sounds are important and which it should ignore. Some take few days; others take few months.
You need to wear them regularly. At start, you can start for a few days only, making it an hour longer the following day, until you reach a stage where you can wear them all day. The more you wear them, the better it will be for in the long run.
iv) Follow-up appointments
Follow-up visits will be scheduled few weeks after the initial fitting. Sometimes, the hearings aids aren’t adjusted to their maximum effectiveness. That is why additional fitting appointments are needed.
What are the benefits of hearing aid fitting?
Professional hearing aid fitting is an important step. It is way more than just determining the comfort of your hearing aids. It is a diagnostic process where you can pair your hearing aids to your hearing loss prescription and make sure you get the most out of them. It is the perfect way to improve the outcomes of your hearing aids.
You can ask questions.
The audiologist will answer all the questions and concerns that you have. You can seek advice on how to store them, clean them and many other questions.
You can get a notebook with you to jot down all the important things you want to remember.
When you need information about hearing loss, you need to hear it from a specialized and trained person.
You can try the hearing aids.
For a device you will wear all day, making sure it is comfortable is a must.
You can learn how to preserve them.
Taking care of your hearing aids helps you avoid damaging or breaking them.
Effective hearing aid fittings are extremely important. There isn’t one hearing aid that is considered right for everyone. The perfect hearing experience includes having great technology customized based on your needs and a professional audiologist who is taking all your needs into consideration.